The Sound Of Voices
GABRIELI CONSORT & PLAYERS
as heard by Norman Warwick
concert 4 on Lanzarote
39th Annual Canary Isles International Classical Music Festival
Convento Santo Domingo, Teguise
January 24th 2023
The Gabrieli Consort & Players (GC & P, left)) group is made up of world-renowned performers and has a large vocal and instrumental repertoire. One of the director´s singularities is his effort to recover little-known repertoires, recreate the original interpretations and create inspiring and stimulating performances.There were no players accompanying The Cabrieli Consort tonight, as this was to be an a capella performance highlighting the incredible vocal abilities-
Gabrieli Consort are world-renowned interpreters of great vocal and instrumental repertoire spanning from the renaissance to the present day. Formed as an early music ensemble by Paul McCreesh (right) in 1982, they have both outgrown and remained true to their original identity. Over thirty-five years, Gabrieli´s repertoire has expanded beyond any expectation, but McCreesh’s ever-questioning spirit and expressive musicianship, together with a healthy degree of iconoclasm, remain constant features and are continually reflected in dynamic performances. Their repertoire includes major works of the oratorio tradition, virtuosic a cappella programmes of music from many centuries and mould-breaking reconstructions of music for historical events.
Gabrieli are acclaimed interpreters of Handel oratorios and Bach Passions and their recordings have garnered numerous international awards, including Gramophone Awards for recordings of Haydn The Creation (2008 Choral Award) and A New Venetian Coronation (2012 Early Music Award), BBC Music Magazine Awards for Berlioz Grande Messe des Morts and Britten War Requiem, and a Grammy nomination in 2010 for the a cappella disc A Spotless Rose.
A number of strong synergies have defined the group´s international profile over many years and such partnerships remain at the heart of activities today. For nearly 15 years, in conjunction with Martin Randall Travel, Gabrieli Consort And Players have pioneered new areas of ‘cultural tourism’ in creating festivals of music in European historic centres, developing new programmes specifically inspired by the exquisite buildings and cities in which they are performed. The unit were resident artists at Brinkburn Music in Northumberland (left), with whom they developed many exciting projects, for 17 years. From 2006 to 2012 GC & P were associate artists of the Wratislavia Cantans Festival, and embarked on an exciting partnership with the Wrocław Philharmonic Choir, a collaboration which features strongly in critically-acclaimed recent oratorio recordings. 2014 saw the inception of a new partnership with Historic Royal Palaces, with further performances at Hampton Court Palace and Kensington Palace taking place throughout the current and forthcoming seasons.
Today, at the heart of activities, is the development of a pioneering education scheme, Gabrieli Roar, an audacious choral training programme that takes a bold stance on the abilities of teenage singers. Previously known as the Gabrieli Young Singers Scheme, this ambitious partnership with a network of leading UK youth choirs offers intensive training and mentoring to the young singers to prepare them for unrivalled performance and recording opportunities alongside Gabrieli’s professional musicians. Early successes in this scheme include a BBC Proms performance of Mendelssohn Elijah and studio recordings of both Elijah and Britten War Requiem. Subsequent projects have included the re-launch of the scheme in February 2016 at Southwark Cathedral, a three-day residential course culminating in a massed-choral performance at Ely Cathedral in July 2016, and regional projects with partners in Bradford, London and St Alban’s.
With Paul McCreesh, GS & P aim to create inspirational and thought-provoking performances that stand out from the crowd. In 2010, Paul McCreesh established his own record label Winged Lion which, in its first year alone, released four extremely diverse recordings, underlining Gabrieli’s versatility and McCreesh’s breadth of vision. The focal point of Winged Lion’s output is the Wratislavia Cantans Oratorio Series, spectacular large-scale oratorio recordings made in conjunction with the Wrocław Philharmonic Choir with the kind support of the National Forum of Music, Wroclaw.
photo 4 There are now four recordings in this series: Berlioz Grande Messe des Morts, Mendelssohn Elijah , Britten War Requiem and Haydn The Seasons. The Winged Lion catalogue also includes recordings of two of Gabrieli’s renowned a cappella programmes, A Song of Farewell (English choral repertoire from Morley and Sheppard to Howells and MacMillan), Incarnation (an inspiring sequence of less well-known Christmas repertoire), A New Venetian Coronation 1595, a much-anticipated re-recording of the ensemble’s famed 1990 reconstruction featuring music by Andrea and Giovanni Gabrieli, and Handel L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato with a cast of soloists led by Gillian Webster and Jeremy Ovenden. Future Winged Lion releases include Silence & Music (an elegiac survey of English part-song in the 20th century) and A Rose Magnificat (great Marian motets from the renaissance to the present day).
Gabrieli’s reputation for award-winning recordings was established during a fifteen year association with Deutsche Grammophon. Our current Winged Lion releases are equally regarded as benchmark recordings, receiving accolades that include BBC Music Magazine Awards (Berlioz Grande Messe des Morts, Britten War Requiem), Gramophone Award (A New Venetian Coronation 1595) and a Diapason d’Or de l’Année (Mendelssohn Elijah).
Such a venerable institution as THE TIMES has published a wish that “May the Gabrieli Consort & Players live forever in health and glory”
Tonight´s programme was titled
AVE MARIS STELLA
Music in honour of the Virgin from the 13th century to the present.
Ave Maris Stella(12′)
Britten – A Hymn to the Virgin (5′)
Plainsong – Ave maris stella (3′)
MacMillan – Ave maris stella (4′)
Ave Maria GratiaPlena (7′)
Plainsong – Angelus ad Virginum (3′)
Wolf – Ave Maria at 8 (4′)
Ave Mater Christi (14′)
Martin – Adam lay and bounden (4′)
Victoria – O Magnum mysterium (4′)
Rubbra – Dormi Jesu (2′)
Leighton – Lullay lulla (4′)
Ave Mater Dolorosa (12′)
Anon c13 – Stabat juxta Christi crucem(4′)
Palestrina/Anerio Stabat Mater at 12 (8′)
Ave Regina Caelorum (12.5′)
Josquin – Ave Maria Virgo Serena (7′)
Howells – Hail Regina (5.5′)
The ensemble created enchanting and somehow timeless interpretations of this music. There was no kind of ´show biz´ at all other than the beautiful blend of their voices, an incredible precision and a conductor who drew each and every nuance of the music from his Consort. There was an ebb and flow, a rise and fall, to a music that was an homage, a prayer if you will, that engaged a full house audience throughout. The fusion of male and female voices created a wide range and harmonies bounced around the Convent, and allowed ofr change of tone by there being all female or all male deliveries too. The high ceilings and wide open space of this centuries old venue enhanced the hymnal tone of the recital.
When they were finally able to leave the stage after several bows to a hugely appreciative and wildly applauding audience, DCI Sidetracks wanted to follow the singers as they shuffled out of the theatre signing autographs, She wondered where they might get a drink or a meal and, I think, whether they might start a jam session she might have been able to join. However, this ensemble is not the sort of a capella group as Straight No Chaser, the American a capella entertainers so loved by our son in South Korea,
So, we managed to persuade DCI Detours to come home with us, and on the drive back down to Playa Playa Blanca she and Superintendent Sidetracks and me and Dutton The Button agreed that what we had heard tonight was a world class performance by an ensemble that has already received fantastic reviews by publications like THE TIMES.
I should also point out that one of the great benefits of seeing concerts that part of the 39th Annual Festival International Classical Music Of The Canary Islands is that very professional and informative progammes are made available, We are more than happy to acknowledge that the information not only gives us early indication of the nature of a concert but aslo helps us share information with our readers when penning our reviews,