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Hyperion Records

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The Transfiguration (1594/5, detail) by Lodovico Carracci (1555-1619)
Pinacoteca Nazionale, Bologna / Alinari / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67957
Recording details: May 2012
All Hallows, Gospel Oak, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Adrian Peacock
Engineered by David Hinitt
Release date: November 2012
Total duration: 12 minutes 10 seconds

'This recital focuses on the Sacrae Symphoniae that represent his output at its most varied … when Ex Cathedra sing as a choir, as in the extended Litany, even Gabrieli's most staid oratory communicates with fervour' (Gramophone)

'There's great variety among the wonderful split-chorus effects, the hypnotic chordal intonations and the lovely spicy harmonic clashes … in the final piece, Exultent iam angelica … the performers marvellously project the power, glory and praise of this music' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Ex Cathedra under Jeffrey Skidmore, matched by the pungent colours of the period instruments, enunciates 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 … this disc reveals an exceptionally high level of both accomplishment and expertise, and if a single track had to be singled out to show just how at ease the singers are in this repertoire, I would point straight to the magnificent Magnificat, which positively crackles with high-voltage intensity as the music passes rapidly between the three choirs. Again, excellent solo voices emerge from the texture with a wholly natural ease, while Skidmore drives it along with considerable verve and energy … this is altogether a superb release, which, while serving the cause of Gabrieli admirably, also reveals the best in British-based Early Music performing' (International Record Review)

'Jeffrey Skidmore's Ex Cathedra is an excellent choice … all three ensembles perform at a very high technical level, whether in massed groups or solos; stylistically well matched, and expertly led … Hyperion's recording team deserves a round of applause of their own for creating the perfect sound for all this … highly recommended' (Fanfare, USA)

Litaniae Beatae Mariae Virginis, C63
composer
1615; a 8; Symphoniae sacrae … liber secundus, Venice
author of text
Litany of Loreto

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Processions, both round the Piazza San Marco, and to churches elsewhere in Venice often included the singing of litanies like that of the Litany of the Blessed Virgin, in which a series of petitions to the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, and to the Virgin in all her guises to ‘pray for us’ is framed by an initial Kyrie and a concluding Agnus Dei. The music used in processional litanies would have been of the simplest kind only—usually plainsong. A complex setting like Gabrieli’s for eight voices, might have been used for devotional purposes by a confraternity, or it may have been linked with the annual celebration of the victory over the Turks at the Battle of Lepanto (1571), a moment of the greatest significance in Venetian history and a victory that was attributed by Pope Pius V to the intervention of the Madonna of the Rosary; in Venice it was celebrated by the doge and choir of St Mark’s at the church of Santa Giustina.

from notes by John Whenham © 2012

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