Gabrieli's summer

Gabrieli has enjoyed a hectic but wonderful summer of international touring, recording and performing. A whistle stop tour through everything that we have done in just these few weeks offers a snapshot of the breadth, variety and ambition of our repertoire and projects.

An early May performance of Bach’s St Matthew Passion for Internationales Bachfest Schaffhausen was followed by performances of our Handel In Italy programme in Chateau de Versailles, near Paris and for the famous Handelfestspiele Halle, near Berlin. This programme is a virtuosic tour de force for all performers, beginning with a showcase for three of our instrumental soloists in a Corelli concerto grosso, to mezzo-soprano Ann Hallenberg’s searing performance of the cantata Donna che in ciel and the Consort & Players’ magnificent Dixit Dominus.

In mid-June, we finally reached the major project of the year which has long been in the planning: performances of Haydn’s The Seasons in London and Wroclaw, followed by a studio recording in Wroclaw’s magnificent new National Forum of Music. As with previous large-scale oratorio recordings, we convened an ensemble of Anglo-Polish musicians who on this occasion were led by soloists Carolyn Sampson, Jeremy Ovenden and Andrew Foster Williams. Nearly 100 musicians from Gabrieli and Wroclaw Baroque Orchestra squeezed on to the stage of St John’s Smith Square, on one of the hottest evenings of the year so far, for an evening of gorgeous music and committed performance… accompanied by rather too many popping pegs and snapping strings, thanks to the humidity! Once in the rather roomier environs of Wroclaw’s National Forum of Music we were joined by another 40 or so musicians from Wroclaw Baroque Orchestra and the National Forum of Music Choir, with whom we have collaborated so often, and so successfully, in the past. The recording is due out in April 2017 – watch this space for more information!

Staying with the heat, The Seasons was followed by a short trip to Mallorca to perform the Mozart Requiem in Palma Cathedral, before returning to the UK for another large-scale project in a rather cooler Ely Cathedral, where nearly 200 singers from Gabrieli Roar joined the professional forces of the Gabrieli Consort for a programme of Anglican choral music, including Mendelssohn Hear My Prayer and Howells’ Gloucester Service. This performance and live recording, promoted by Cambridge Summer Music Festival, were the crowning achievement of our year-round training programme for partner youth choirs, culminating in three days of intensive rehearsal in Cambridge. We are excited to announce that our relationship with Cambridge Summer Music Festival continues next year, with a performance of Mendelssohn Lobgesang in late July 2017.

July continued with a new a cappella programme, Silence and Music, performed by the Gabrieli Consort in London and for the Oundle International Festival before retiring to Charterhouse School Chapel for three days of recording sessions to focus on this beautiful programme of English twentieth century secular partsongs. This programme explores how poets and composers reflect upon the natural world as a metaphor for our own emotional experience. At the heart of this programme is the complex relationship between man and nature, the bitter-sweetness of a radiant and beautiful dawn creating the same unbearable sadness of a ravishing song, and both with intimations of mortality.

From here, the rest of the summer includes performances of the Mozart Requiem at the Gstaad Menuhin Festival (15/16 July) and for our long-standing friends at Festival de Beaune (17 July) before the Consort make two European trips in August, to Festival de Torroella de Montgri, near Barcelona, where we perform our Marian programme Of a rose I sing and to Festival de la Chaise-Dieu, in the south of France, where we repeat this programme and also offer a new programme of Bach and Mendelssohn motets.

It’s been a hectic summer, but a thoroughly enjoyable one of musical discoveries and great performances, revisiting familiar places and introducing Gabrieli to some new audiences too. Here’s to the autumn…!