Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Music Webmaster
Len Mullenger:

Giovanni GABRIELI (c1553 - 1612)
Music for Brass, Volume 2

  1. Canzon à 12 [3.30]
  2. Canzon V [2.51]
  3. Sonata XVIII [6.21]
  4. Canzon Seconda à 4 [2.38]
  5. Canzon Primi Toni à 8 [4.04]
  6. Sonata XIX [16.15]
  7. Canzon II [3.25]
  8. Sonata Octavi Toni à 12 [1597]
  9. Canzon Terza à 4 [1.56]
  10. Canzon XII [3.03}
  11. Canzon III [2.50]
  12. Canzon VI [3.05]
  13. Canzon "La Spiritata" à 4 [2.34]
  14. Canzon XVI à 12 * [3.45]

London Symphony Orchestra Brass
Eric Crees
Recorded All Hallows Church, Gospel Oak, London.19/8/95 (14), 12/3/96 (3,6,8), 13/3/96 (2,12),28/11/97 (1,5,7,10,11), 29/11/97 (4,9,13) DDD
NAXOS 8.553873 [52.04]

Take the brass players from one of Europe's top orchestras, add the antiphonal writing of Giovanni Gabrielli, stir and record well and you have an appetising dish. This is Volume II of Music for Brass with the London Symphony Orchestra Brass under the direction of Eric Crees, co-principal trombone of the LSO and Musical Director of the ensemble.

The arrangements of the fourteen pieces on disc - incidentally at 52 minutes not the most generously filled disc by today's exacting expectations - have all been specially done by Eric Crees. His realisations of the music remind of the age when Venice was so important and powerful, and the Venetians always tried to impress important visitors by the opulence of ceremonial and display - of which music on a large scale was a major part. In Giovanni Gabrielli they had the right man for the job. This requirement by the City / State to impress matched Gabrielli's musical skills and inclinations. He had become Organist at St.Mark's in succession to his uncle, Andrea, whose composing styles was similar to his nephew's but less extravagant. On taking over Giovanni embarked on a series of elaborate choral and instrumental works that involved having built extra platforms for up to five separate groups in the special spatial effects he wrote for.

The bases of the realised pieces on the disc are from two collections, published in 1597 and (posthumously) in 1615. The musical "spread" varies from Track I (Canzon à 12) with three choirs subdivided into 3, 4, and 5 parts, the richness of Sonata XVIII with two five- voice groups and a separate section of 4 trombones, intertwining magnificently. Dignity and grandeur combine in the measured tempo of Sonata XIX (for three choirs) and ten trombones form a resplendent base for just two trumpets in the Sonata Octavi Toni à 12. Seven-part writing features in Canzon VI, clearly written for a less pompous occasion, while the ending to Canzon XVI à 12 has a truly magnificent moment when the three choirs finally merge after their assorted journeys. Magnificent playing and the tightest of controls over the wide-spread forces and numbers involved are notable features.

The recording is first-rate. The London Church isn't St. Mark's, Venice, but the engineers have captured a generous acoustic that is so essential for music like this. The disc is strongly recommended.


Harry Downey

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