Christmas in Venice

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Christmas in Venice

Monteverdi Choir & Philip Jones Brass Ensemble, John Eliot Gardiner

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Jean-Baptiste Duval of the Venetian Republic’s French Embassy records that on Christmas Eve 1607, Midnight Mass in St. Mark’s was celebrated by the light of more than one thousand candles, sixty huge torches and silver lamps. He counted no less than eight ‘choirs’ of voices and instruments sounding back and forth across the gilded vaults from the high organ-galleries and the pulpit below. At Mass on Christmas Day the accompaniment was provided by two organs and several other instruments, notably trombones, cornetti and violins blending with the voices of the singers. Duval was too caught up in the ceremony to tell us who composed this magnificent music, but we may reasonably assume that the Christmas music he heard was by one of the resident musicians at St. Mark’s – possibly the maestro di cappella, Giovanni Croce, but more likely the first organist, Giovanni Gabrieli, to whom Croce tended to leave the composition of music for the big festivals. It might also have been by Giovanni Bassano who was in charge of the instrumental ensemble at St. Mark’s, and the composer of the vivacious motet for Christmas Day, Hodie Christus natus est.

Some of John Eliot Gardiner’s very first recordings were made for Decca, before he proceeded to make a series of celebrated recordings for Philips and Deutsche Grammophon. Christmas in Venice was recorded with the Monteverdi Choir and the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble and included festive music of the early Baroque by Gabrieli, Monteverdi and Bassano. To this has been added the great ‘Magnificat’ section from the 1610 Vespers of Monteverdi, in Gardiner’s first recording of the work, in January 1974.

Works:

Bassano, G: Hodie Christus natus est
Gabrieli, G: Angelus ad Pastores
Gabrieli, G: Audite principes
Gabrieli, G: Canzona ‘Sol sol la sol’
Gabrieli, G: O Magnum Mysterium
Gabrieli, G: Quem Vidistis pastores a 12, C 77
Gabrieli, G: Salvator noster
Gabrieli, G: Sonata Pian e Forte
Monteverdi: Exultent caeli
Monteverdi: Vespro della Beata Vergine - Magnificat

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Decca Eloquence 1CD
4806556