REVIEW: 4* Festa Veneziana!

Robert Hugill, Planet Hugill
cardinal vaughan
Some thrilling moments in a programme of Venetian poly-choral music of both Giovanni and Andrea GabrieliFor Festa Veneziana! at the Temple Church on Tuesday 14 March 2017, the Schola Cantorum of The Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School, director Scott Price, was joined by His Majesty’s Sagbutts and Cornetts, tenors Peter Davoren and Nicholas Mulroy for a programme of Venetian 17th century poly-choral music, as part of the Temple Music Foundation‘s concert series.The name most associated with this period is Giovanni Gabrieli, and the programme started with Giovanni Gabrieli’s 14-part In ecclessiis and concluded with his 15-part Jubilate Deo. But the great virtue of Scott Price’s programme was that we also heard music by Giovanni Gabrieli’s uncle, Andrea Gabrieli including the spectacular 16-part Gloriaalong with lesser known Venetian composers Giovanni Battists Grillo and Gioseffo Guami.

The Schola Cantorum of The Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School is an all-male choir (of boys aged 11 to 18) numbering over 50 which is the liturgical choir of The Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School, singing during the regular Wednesday school masses as well as having frequent external engagement. The boys make what might be termed a Continental sound, with the two dozen trebles giving an admirably strong, firm and focused sound. Overall it was a robust and vibrant sound, often thrilling with a confident sense of engagement with the music.

Scott Price followed known 17th century Venetian practice in mixing instruments and voices in the poly-choral pieces, and he also used a semi-chorus of boys from the choir, so the results had a striking sense of the contrast between timbres and between groups of different sizes. In Giovanni Gabrieli’s In ecclesiis the interaction between choir, a quartet of soloists (Aidan Cole, Philippe Barbaroussis, Nicholas Mulroy and Peter Davoren), the cornets and sackbuts and Iestyn Evans’ organ produced some thrilling moments, and some finely subtle ones too.

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