In 1990 the Gabrieli Consort and Players released a spectacular
- and spectacularly successful - CD. It recreated a sequence
of music as it might have been heard on the occasion of the
coronation of Doge Marino Grimani at the end of the sixteenth
century. A Venetian Coronation 1595 originally appeared on Virgin
Veritas 91110. That recording - which won the Gramophone early
music award for that year - is currently available on Virgin
Classics Special Import 59006. In many people's eyes it gave
a good overall introduction to the consort music of uncle and
nephew Andrea and Giovanni Gabrieli, who both served as organists
at St. Marks in Venice.
This year (2012) Paul McCreesh, the Gabrieli Consort and Players'
conductor, felt it useful to repeat yet update the experience.
To quote from their website it is time to 'look at the historical
and instrumental developments since the original recording'.
In the first place, it's hard to believe that that first 'Venetian
Coronation' CD was McCreesh and the Consort and Players' actual
first CD; they're now so well established and respected. As
a concept - the historically-informed recreation - and execution
(brass, keyboards and single violin) it was a significant achievement.
It’s probably still a favourite in the CD collection of
many an ('early') music lover.
For 'A New Venetian Coronation 1595' McCreesh celebrates the
advances made since 1990 in scholarship and performance practice.
One has to suppose, furthermore, that such a reprise is more
likely almost 25 years on to be taken up and celebrated without
fuss by enthusiasts: they're now more demanding in and of such
repertoire. 'A New Venetian Coronation 1595' represents an excellent
hour and ten minutes' worth of delightful music played with
great style. It's also sufficiently distinct from the earlier
CD to be worth buying in its own right.
Sources have been revisited and their understanding deepened
by McCreesh and co. Technology - in use and restoration of instruments
and in recording and editing - has played a large part too in
producing a collection of two and a half dozen or so beautifully-played
works. This time their innate power to move and inspire has
taken precedence over effect and impact. The intricacies of
Giovanni Gabrieli's lovely Canzona a 10 [tr.24], for instance,
are gentler in tone and articulation than anything on the earlier
collection. The works to be heard are not identical on each
CD. McCreesh seems to have less to prove. We are more used to
this music now. McCreesh is offering it to us with no less seriousness
and sense of occasion. Surely we hear it now more nearly as
it would have been heard by those celebrating the coronation
The two CDs last about the same time, though this later one
has more actual pieces. You will be struck immediately by the
wider expressiveness, greater closeness with the spirit of the
music. Listen to the melancholy - even the Doge is mortal? -
harmonies of the poignant Canzona a 15 [tr.19] also by Giovanni.
Each phrase is lovingly conjured up from the lagoon and left
to dissipate there once it's been heard. It's one of the longer
pieces at four and a half minutes. The integrity and familiarity
which McCreesh brings to the enterprise ensures that this no
disjointed experience. This is accomplished even though choral
works, plainchant, instrumental and ensemble pieces come in
The splendour and glory of the climax, starting with the dignity
of Andrea Gabrieli's Communion: O sacrum convivium a 5 [tr.23],
through Gussago's Sonata La Leona [tr.26] and Giovanni Gabrieli's
Omnes Gentes [tr.27] are stunning and uplifting. This is achieved
without being empty or over rhetorical.
Nicholas Perry, cornett, sackbut and serpent player for the
Gabrielis, uses the same treble cornett that he used in the
original recording. He had stopped using it between 1990 and
now; it had begun to rot. Yet he has re-varnished it and got
it back into playable condition again. A group of Italian instruments
which played well despite continuing apparent inconsistencies
in design was copied and used for this recording.
Indeed, McCreesh describes advances in mouthpieces made with
the advantage that they produce a sound closer to that of a
true cornett and less like a 'bad tenor trombone'. It's obvious
that McCreesh and his forces have had the luxury of being able
to experiment more than perhaps they did nearly a quarter of
a century ago. An example can be heard in the use of the tenor
cornett as a substitute for the alto sackbut.
Trumpet fanfares and toccatas were researched by Peter Downey
with Paul McCreesh. A second copy of Cesare Bendinelli's 'Trumpet
Method' at the Austrian National Library in Vienna reinforces
our appreciation of just how influential Bendinelli was. It's
also been possible to cross-check manuscripts. Sources previously
thought destroyed during World War II now explain how trumpets
and drums were played during their introduction into music for
the forty years after the date of the coronation. This is another
example of authenticity augmented. At the same time more persuasive
and pleasing colours and textures emerge.
Collectors of music by these composers will not want to add
'A New Venetian Coronation' for the sake of filling out their
shelves. Those who are curious about such events in Venetian
history, who maintain even a passing interest in almost any
area of 'early' music, and certainly who bought and/or enjoyed
the original CD should not hesitate to get this later disc.
This is music-making of the highest order.
The acoustic is good, clear and resonant. Though it's not that
of San Marco, which is a pity. In the first track or so, to
the bells and music are added 'atmospheric' ambient sounds.
A simple yet nicely-produced booklet is bound into the hardback
and embossed container which carries the CD. It holds a mass
of useful background on the actual ducal event, its significance
and the musicians' approach to this - and the earlier - recreation.
It's hard to imagine anyone remaining unmoved or not uplifted
by this music.
see also review by Johan
Hans-Leo HASSLER (1564-1612)
Intrada tertia/sexta/septima (1601)/
Cesare BENDINELLI (?-1617)
Trumpet Sonata No. 333 (1614) [8:20]
Giovanni GABRIELI (1554/57-1612)
Toccata 2. tono (1593) [2:02]
Benedicta sit sancta Trinitas [4:24]
[Arrival of the Doge]
Toccata 26 (1614) [1:01]
Intonazione 1. tono (1593) [0:30]
Andrea GABRIELI (1532/33-1585)
Kyrie à 5 (1587) [1:59]
Christe à 8 (1587) [2:13]
Kyrie à 12 (1587) [3:29]
Gloria à 16 (1587) [5:02]
Canzona XIII à 12 (1597) [2:48]
Intonazione 7. tono (1593) [1:14]
Deus qui beatum Marcum à 10 (1597) [2:51]
Sanctus and Benedictus à 12 (1587) [3:40]
Sarasinetta 2 (1614) [1:01]
Canzona XVI à 15 (1597) [4:34]
Pater noster [2:02]
Agnus Dei [1:25]
Intonazione 5. tono alla quarta bassa (1593) [0:42]
O sacrum convivium à 5 (1565) [3:59]
Canzona IX à 10 (1597) [4:23]
[Post Communon Prayer] [1:58]
Cesario GUSSAGO (fl c1599-1612)
Sonata La Leona (1608) [2:15]
Omnes gentes à 16 (1597) [4:26]