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These magnificent liturgical settings from the heart of the Venetian polychoral tradition are full of drama, wonder and extraordinary spatial effects. His Majestys Sagbutts & Cornetts and Concerto Palatino provide the sonic gilding that would have been an essential part of the original performances, when extra musicians crowded the galleries of St Mark’s for special occasions.
Jeffrey Skidmore writes: ‘Giovanni Gabrieli, one of the greatest and most influential composers of his age, died four hundred years ago in Venice. The foremost purpose of this recording is to explore as wide a range of his fabulous music as possible in the space of a single album, with the ambitious aim of shedding new light and enabling his work to be reassessed with fresh ears. This recording is a celebration of Gabrieli’s ‘Sacred Symphonies’ from his two major publications (1597 and 1615, both entitled Sacrae symphoniae).’
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‘Ex Cathedra under Jeffrey Skidmore, matched by the pungent colours of the period instruments, enunciate the words with crisp clarity, singing with fluency and relishing the sumptuous soundscapes that Gabrieli envisaged. Emotional sensitivity and reverence are harnessed as well, notably in the eight-part “Litaniae Beatae Mariae Virginis”, where Gabrieli’s ingenuity in finding different solutions for the repetitive “ora pro nobis” highlights an inspired creativity that this disc illustrates in abundance.’ (The Daily Telegraph)
‘Warmth and opulence permeate every pore of this deeply attractive and strangely compelling recording. So beautifully blended are the collective forces of His Majestys Sagbutts & Cornetts, Concerto Palatino and Ex Cathedra that it is surprisingly difficult to tell where the voices leave off and the brass join in… Birmingham-based Ex Cathedra has been a noted player in the British choral music scene for over four decades and in that time it has gravitated increasingly towards Early Music, standing now as one of the most notable choral groups specializing in this area. Certainly this disc reveals an exceptionally high level of both accomplishment and expertise… This is altogether a superb disc’ (International Record Review)
‘Gabrieli was regarded as one of the finest composer in Venice towards the end of his life and this recording is a real joy to listen to and a fantastic way to get to know his music.’ (Classic FM, New Releases Show)
‘In a good year for choral music, this disc from conductor Jeffrey Skidmore must be the best for thrilling effects.’ (Daily Mail, The best of the year’s classical CDs)
On ne pouvait rêver plus impressionnante réunion que celle du Concerto Palatino de Bruce Dickey avec leur rivaux et amis depuis plus vingt ans, His Majestys Sagbutts & Cornetts de Jeremy West. Depuis leur création, ces deux ensemble défendent avec brio les répertoires vénitiens du baroque naissant. Joignant leur forces dans les architectures polychorales, environnés par les chanteurs d’Ex Cathedra (voix suaves, intonation infaillible, et ornementations aériennes), ils font merveille. Jeffrey Skidmore imprime, jusque dans les entrelacs contrapuntiques les plus denses (les compositions varient de huits à dix-sept voix), une souplesse dynamique, une lisibilité polyphonique, une intelligibilité et une intelligence dans l’expression des parole confondantes. Certes, la pluspart de ces Sacrae symphoniae sont de véritables “tubes” (In ecclesiis, Magnificat a 12…) maintes fois gravés depuis des lustres. Mais cette nouvelle version compte désormais parmi les plus recommandables de la discographie. (Diapason)
One could not dream of a more impressive collaboration than Bruce Dickey’s Concerto Palatino with their competitors and friends for over twenty years, His Majestys Sagbutts & Cornetts, led by Jeremy West. Since their inception, these two ensembles have both brilliantly performed Venetian baroque repertoire. Joining their forces in polychoral music with the singers of Ex Cathedra (sweet voices, infallible intonation, and acrobatic ornamentation), they work wonders. Conducted by Jeffrey Skidmore, even in the densest textures (the pieces range from eight to seventeen parts), there is clarity, dynamic flexibility and intelligence in the expression of the words. Certainly, many of these Sacrae symphoniae (In Ecclesiis, Magnificat a 12 …) have been recorded many times. But this new version is now among the most highly recommended.
‘There is always room for recordings of Gabrieli that are as effective and well-recorded as this one. This is a collection of some of the standard Gabrieli fare performed and recorded to perfection by the aggregation of three of the best period ensembles playing today… it is rare such a finely balanced performance comes out so cleanly on record as Gabrieli can be notoriously difficult to record… a fine disc.’ (Audiophile Audition)
‘This disc is a feast for the ears. Jeffrey Skidmore and his excellent musicians bring Gabrieli’s music vividly to life… This is a splendid set of performances. The singing is consistently animated and expert while the instrumental contributions are equally fine. Skidmore and his splendid, committed performers, helped by the engineers, realise the spaciousness of Gabrieli’s music to really good effect. They’re equally successful whether the music is subdued and prayerful or uninhibitedly extrovert. One hears often the label “the splendours of Venice”. Well, those splendours are compellingly revealed here.’ (musicweb-international.com)