The Myth of Venice: 16th century music for cornetto & keyboards


With the arrival of Adrian Willaert at St Mark’s Cathedral in 1527, Venice at last boasted a musician of international reputation to match its growing image as a ‘city rich in gold but richer in renown, mighty in works but mightier in virtue’. The establishment of Venice as the world leader in music publishing, and the coming and going of international musicians, made the Floating City anything but insular, and artistic competition was order of the day, with organists duelling to outdo each other in invention and grace; while on the streets a different culture of lively dances gave rise to more opportunities for instrumentalists to show off their improvisational skills.

Intimate yet exuberant, scholarly yet unrestrained, Gawain Glenton and Silas Wollston’s exploration of the often dazzlingly virtuosic repertoire shows how the enduring ‘myth of Venice’ was built in sound just as much as it was in marble.


"There’s something about the unique sound of Venice in the 16th century that emanates instant opulence, joy and utter self-confidence, even when presented, as here, by a simple duo of cornetto and keyboards. Performers Gawain Glenton and Silas Wollston explore works by the international set who found employment in and around the famous St Mark’s Cathedral, as well as composers whose music would have reached the city state via its adventurous musical appetite and prolific publishing industry, from Adrian Willaert, Andrea Gabrieli and Claudio Merulo to Claude Gervais and Palestrina. Glenton’s nimble and regal facility and Wollston’s crisp keyboard performances (given added piquancy by the organ’s unequal tuning system) give what could potentially have been a glut of similarity a freshness at every turn"

★ ★ ★ ★

'Silas Wollston’s performance feels far more epic than its 5'06" length would suggest: his organ-playing is aerated but muscly, almost hypnotic in its dancing quality ... Glenton’s own diminutions are gently and lightly patted into the larger musical line. And together with Wollston’s calm, the whole thing sways like a dance made of chiffon ... Wollston’s fingerwork in the Diruta is so freshly articulated: fingers dancing unburdened by the heaviness of life, morning fresh. Lovely booklet notes cap an altogether fine album'

"Most recordings of Venetian music focus on what was written at the end of the century, and earlier music is too often overlooked. That is not the case here, and this explains why the programme includes pieces by composers who are not that well known, such as the Parabosco, Segni da Modena, Padovano, Bellavere and Gorzanis ... this is music that is a treat for the ears ... The programme performed by Gawain Glenton and Silas Wollston is a fine demonstration of the brilliance of Venetian music. The playing is also nothing less than brilliant. One won't often hear such excellent cornett playing as here from Glenton. He produces a beautiful tone, without any hint of stress, and the intonation is immaculate. Silas Wollston uses the appropriate (Italian-style) instruments to explore the typical features of the keyboard repertoire. The Toccata 8 by Merulo is an impressive specimen both of Merulo's qualities as a composer of keyboard music and of Wollston's command of the repertoire and the organ.

La brillantina is a brilliant piece, and brilliantly played. It is the best possible way to bring this exciting disc to a close. It is a joy to listen to and deserves a special recommendation."

MusicWeb International

Release Date: 22 October 2021
Catalogue No: DCD34261
Total Playing Time: 61: 50
Recorded on 13-15 April 2021 at St Saviour's Church Chalk Farm
Producer/Engineer: Paul Baxter
24-bit digital Editing: Jack Davis
24-bit digital Mastering: Paul Baxter
Design: Drew Padrutt


Gabrieli:Caro dolce ben mio

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