Gabrieli Sacred Symphonies

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COMPOSERS: Giovanni Gabrieli
LABELS: Hyperion
ALBUM TITLE: Gabrieli Sacred Symphonies
WORKS: Sacred Symphonies: Vox Domini super aquas Jordanis a 10; In exxlesiis a 14; Canzon primi toni a 10; O Jesu mi dulcissime; Omnes gentes plaudite manibus; Kyrie; Maria virgo; Magniicat; Litaniae Beatissimae Mariae Virginis; Exultet Iam Angelica
PERFORMER: Ex Cathedra; His Majestys Sagbutts & Cornetts; Concerto Palatino/Jeffrey Skidmore


 Several different anniversaries are packed into this item. 2012 was the 400th anniversary of the death of Giovanni Gabrieli, the 30th since the founding of His Majestys Sagbutts and Cornetts, and the 25th of the Concerto Palatino. For this special occasion Jeffrey Skidmore has decided to present only pieces by the magnificent Giovanni Gabrieli who worked in St Mark’s Venice for most of his career. The works are presented as a purely musical concert, without any attempt to construct liturgical settings for these churchly compositions.

Even so, this does not mean that the programme lacks shape. There is great variety among the wonderful split-chorus effects (Omnes gentes), the hypnotic chordal intonations (the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary), and the lovely spicy harmonic clashes (in the Kyrie, and elsewhere). The subdued approach to the 1597 setting of O Jesu works well, but I am not sure that the performers understand the style changes represented by the 1615 setting with its more flamboyant madrigalesque elements. Also, some of the a cappella singing (in the Magnificat for example) is a little rough-edged. In the final piece, Exultet Iam Angelica, however, the performers marvelously project the power, glory and praise of this music.


Anthony Pryer