Like his uncle Andrea, Giovanni Gabrieli’s last and most important post was as organist of S. Marco in his native city of Venice. Prior to this, he held a court post in Munich. Once appointed to S. Marco in 1585, he composed prolifically for the lavish vocal and instrumental resources available to him there, generally dividing his forces into cori spezzati, multiple choirs spaced apart; many of his motets were written for the great festivals of church and state for which Venice was renowned. Following the death of Doge Grimani in 1605, there were cutbacks in the musical establishment at S. Marco, and Iubilate Deo
, written in a fairly simple chanson- and madrigal-influenced style for single choir, would seem to belong to this post-1605 period. It did not appear in print until shortly after Gabrieli’s death, in three separate collections published in Germany (where the composer’s reputation was honoured more than in Italy). Although untypical of Gabrieli in the sense that it is not polychoral, Iubilate Deo
is one of his most attractive and often-performed works. Its text is compiled mainly from the psalms, in the manner of a litany. Gabrieli made two other settings of the same text, which suggests that it was associated with a regular Venetian festival such as the Feast of the Ascension. The climax of this ceremony involved the Doge casting a ring into the sea as a symbol of Venice’s union with it; this would explain the inclusion of the line ‘Deus Israel conjungat vos’ (taken from a nuptial blessing in the Vulgate version of the Book of Tobit).
from notes by Collegium Records © 2009