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The Gabrieli Consort is a popular ensemble largely associated with the performance of Baroque choral music. The group really consists of two ensembles and typically uses the name Gabrieli Consort & Players. In that form there are about 25 members, though the number can expand or contract depending on the repertory offered in concert or on recording. When the group performs a cappella concerts it is billed by its abbreviated name, the Gabrieli Consort. The instrumentalists, or Players, perform on period instruments and they, too, sometimes appear in concert or on recording as a single entity, as in the 2009 DG recording of Handel arias, with tenor Rolando Villazón. Although the Gabrieli Consort & Players' wide acclaim has been generally achieved in Renaissance-era and Baroque repertory, particularly in music by J.S. Bach, Handel, Monteverdi, Byrd, and others, they have performed works by Haydn, Mozart, Britten, Holst, Vaughan Williams, and even by relatively little known contemporary figures like Polish composer Pawel Lukaszewski. The ensemble has recorded for Deutsche Grammophon, Veritas, and Virgin Classics.
The Gabrieli Consort & Players was founded in 1982 by its artistic director Paul McCreesh. The group's name derives from the city of Venice, home of composers Gabrieli: Andrea and nephew Giovanni.
Trained as a cellist, McCreesh and his ensemble quickly rose to prominence and by the early '90s were internationally acclaimed: the ensemble's 1990 Gramophone Early Music Award for the recording, A Venetian Coronation, on Veritas, was perhaps their watershed moment. In 1993 McCreesh and company signed an exclusive recording contract with Deutsche Grammophon under their Archiv Produktion label. They soon began appearing at major European Festivals, including the Vienna-based Resonance (1993) and the Lucerne (1994).
1999 saw the acclaimed release of Schutz's Christmas Vespers, another recording by the Gabrieli Consort & Players given a Gramophone Award. From the late '90s the ensemble made regular tours of the U.S. and Europe, appearing at the most prestigious concert venues there.
In 2008 McCreesh and his Gabrieli personnel received yet a third Gramophone Award, this one for their highly praised recording of Haydn's The Creation, as the best choral recording. The following year they put on a massive production of the work at the BBC Proms, and once more drew lavish critical praise. The Gabrieli's 2009 concert schedule included performances of Handel's Theodora at the Paris Salle Pleyel in May and at the Teatro Real, Madrid, in July.