1615 – Gabrieli in Venice

Reviewed on Mon 25 Jan, 2016

For all the undoubtedly immersive experience offered by surround sound (featuring ‘Dolby Atmos’ compatible with 7.1, so boasts the Blu-ray), Gabrieli’s music doesn’t really need such a hard sell: yes, the separate choirs do stand out via multiple speakers, but in plain old stereo the effect is pretty impressive too.

Following the trail blazed by Paul McCreesh, Stephen Cleobury celebrates Venetian poly-choral music and the great Giovanni Gabrieli in particular with choice works drawn mostly from Gabrieli’s Symphoniae sacrae, published posthumously in 1615. The main selling-point here is the double-disc set of a hybrid SACD and a Blu-ray. But for all the undoubtedly immersive experience offered by surround sound (featuring ‘Dolby Atmos’ compatible with 7.1, so boasts the Blu-ray), Gabrieli’s music doesn’t really need such a hard sell: yes, the separate choirs do stand out via multiple speakers, but in plain old stereo the effect is pretty impressive too. Unlike McCreesh, who typically presents such pieces in their liturgical context, Cleobury opts for a more traditional album selection; but if the result lacks the theatrical drama of grand Venetian liturgy – no fanfares and processionals here – Cleobury and his Cambridge team more effectively keep the attention solely on Gabrieli’s beguiling choral textures.
–Mark Walker