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Returning to 'A Venetian Coronation 1595' two decades after its original release.


Last week, we began the recording sessions for our new re-release of A Venetian Coronation 1595 on the Winged Lion label! We take a look at the historical and instrumental developments since the original recording.

A Venetian Coronation 1595 is a musical re-creation evoking the grand pageantry of the Coronation Mass for Venetian Doge Marino Grimani. His love of ceremony and state festivals fuelled an extraordinary musical bounty during his reign and formed the background to the musical riches of the period, especially to the works of Giovanni Gabrieli. With cornetts, sackbuts and an all-male consort, Paul McCreesh fully exploits the dazzling polyphony of Andrea and Giovanni Gabrieli's music and captivates the audience in a theatrical and ceremonious performance.



"Paul McCreesh and his Gabrieli Consort & Players first appeared on record enthusiasts' radar in 1990 with a disc for Virgin Classics entitled ‘A Venetian Coronation 1595'. It was a real ear-opener, a re-creation of what might have been heard when a new Doge was being enthroned in Venice, drawing on works by Giovanni Gabrieli and his uncle Andrea, the composers who lent their name to McCreesh's bands of musicians." James Jolly

"Without doubt, this is one of the finest records of Italian Renaissance polyphony to appear for a long time; imaginative in conception, varied in content, and both exciting and thought-provoking in execution." Gramophone Magazine, 1990

"A sonic stunner…" Observer on Sunday, 1990

"A glorious and exciting event; played marvellously by the brass, keyboards and lone fiddle, directed with character and drive by McCreesh, and sung beautifully by the choir and soloists."
The Independent, 2005

"They brought with them A Venetian Coronation, the first of their famous historical reconstructions. May Doge Grimani and the Gabrieli Consort & Players live forever in health and glory."
The Times, 2010


So what has changed since the first recording in 1990?

Since 1990, there have been huge developments in the early instruments, performance techniques and the research in to the pieces that were on the original recording. New sources have been re-discovered, and this is all without mentioning the developments in technology!

Nicholas Perry, cornett, sackbut and serpent player for Gabrieli, will be using the same treble cornett that he used in the original recording. Although he had stopped using it between 1990 and now, as it had begun to rot, he has re-varnished it and got it in a playable condition again. We ask him about the instruments he will be using in the re-recording and how they have developed since the first Venetian Coronation project:

"The main change in the last two decades is the use of tenor cornetts and I have done a lot of work on the instruments themselves. As part of a project to catalogue makers' marks, I visited most of the main European collections to try to find if there was any uniformity in tenor cornett design and to measure as many originals as I could. There is a lot less consistency than with the trebles and many have rather unusual tunings, but I did find a group of Italian instruments that did play very well and was able to copy some of them.

We have been changing the type of mouthpieces that we have been using since the original recording (there are no clearly identifiable originals) so I hope we are now sounding a bit less like bad tenor trombones and a closer blend to the treble cornetts.

It has been very good to use the performances of Venetian Coronation over the years since the first recording, to experiment with how to use the tenor cornett as a substitute for the alto sackbut."

Peter Downey has researched the trumpet fanfares and toccatas with Paul McCreesh and talks about the developments over the last 22 years:

"The rediscovery of a second copy of Cesare Bendinelli's ‘Trumpet Method' at the Austrian National Library in Vienna, which Bendinelli appears to have presented to an official at the Imperial Court (he had served for a time in the Imperial Court trumpet ensemble) and which has actually been in the library collection for some centuries, has shown the extent of his influence across the Holy Roman Empire and it has also enabled cross-checking with the first Verona manuscript to ensure that errors have been corrected and - more importantly, given the tendency of the military/ceremonial pieces to exploit irregular rhythmical cells - that original intentions have not been treated as 'mistakes' and then corrected in error.

The recent re-emergence of important German and Polish music library collections that were previously thought to have been destroyed during World War II has enabled investigation of the actual employment of trumpets and drums in pieces of music and has helped performance practices to be re-evaluated for the critical period of the introduction of trumpets and drums into composed music from 1587 to 1630. This has been particularly the case with drum parts, for which the characteristics of the parts have for the first time been made with reference to printed timpani parts."

We will have lots of new information on the recording over the next few months if you have a question about the re-recording, email us at or visit our facebook page.