December 5th, 2008

Fishy Circumstances

The Gabrieli Consort

I'd read the advanced notices, bought my ticket, showed up at the concert, listened to the pre-concert talk, but it wasn't until I sat down to read the program that I realized I own an album recorded by the Gabrieli Consort, and I'd last listened to it only a week earlier. This is yet another sad reminder of how sloppy my memory can be with the names of singers (and actors and musicians).

The concert itself, a re-creation of how Matins might have been sung on Christmas Eve in Venice, was lovely. Beautiful multi-part music, performed by talented singers and instrumentalists, made good use of the space in Christ Church, Spitalfields, singing from the balcony as well as in permutations at the front of the church. In places, it was sumptuous.

Matins on Christmas Eve? Yes, you read that correctly. Venice apparently received special papal dispensation to celebrate Christmas early. On the afternoon of the day before Christmas, the service at S. Marco preceded directly from Vespers to Compline to Matins before it concluded mid-evening.

The introductory talk was accessible and sound-bitish, good for context, but implying many sloppy things in its details. At the end of the hour-and-a-half of singing, after a rousing bout of "allelujah"s, the audience was silent. Logically, it was a good place to end, but, not having been following along the program, I didn't want to assume. The choir started to look awkward. Nearly 20 seconds later, the applause began, and then continued in earnest for quite a while to compensate. Afterwards, prosecco was provided for all, which was thoughtful.