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Andrea GABRIELI (c.1510 - 1586)
Psalmi Davidici (1583):-
Antiphona Ne reminiscaris Domine [3.13]
Psalm 6 Domine ne in furore tuo arguas me [7.02]
Psalm 31 (32) Beati quorum remissae sunt iniquitates [9.13]
Psalm 37 (38) Domine in furore tuo arguas me [13.12]
Psalm 50 (51) Miserere mei Deus [10.37]
Psalm 101 (102) Domine exaudi orationem meam [13.19]
Psalm 129 (130) De profundis clamavi ad te Domine [4.50]
Psalm 142 (143) Domine exaudi orationem meam [8.06]
Aniphona Ne reminiscaris Domine [9.09]
Capella Ducale Venetia/Livio Picotti
Recorded in 22-27 March 2001 in Abbazio Benedettina di San Giorgio, Maggiore
CPO 999 863-2 [69’01]

Andrea Gabrieli was the uncle of the more famous Giovanni. He was a pupil of Willaert and served under him at St. Mark’s, Venice, as a singer, later becoming one of its organists. He wrote much for choir and for organ and was famous throughout Europe. The post of organist of the "Most Serene Venetian Republic" was much coveted and placed Gabrieli in a position of great prestige. He dedicated the Psalmi Davidici to Pope Gregory XIII, maybe to consolidate his position?

The differences between this work and those of his nephew are immediately apparent; not for Andrea the declaiming brass and pomp of the Venetian festivals. Rather here there is a contemplative inward-looking religious tract, such as was suitable for presentation to His Holiness the Pope. The work is scored for 8 voices (2 sopranos, contralto, counter-tenor, 2 tenors, baritone and bass) and an ensemble of 8 instruments (cornet, 2 trombones, bassoon, 3 viols - soprano, tenor and bass, and organ). In this recording, period instruments (or copies) are used throughout.

The standard of playing and singing is high in all the items, the interpretation is apt and restrained, and the recording is excellent. The booklet is well written in four languages (Latin, English, German and Italian) and is explanatory and well produced. So, why can I not feel more enthusiastic about this issue? The first reason has to be the surroundings; the Abbazio Benedettina has a marked echo and this is prominent enough to cause quite severe muffling of the words. This is exacerbated by the abounding counterpoint. Even with the text in front of me, I had great difficulty in following the words. The other pre-disposing factor is the singing which, while delightfully smooth, allows one word to slip into another. I found myself losing interest after the third track - everything seemed so much alike. Having said this, the performing of all these psalms at one sitting is unlikely to have happened in Gabrieli’s day, and is not the best way to hear them - better in the context of a church service. Even at mid-price, I cannot warm to this disc; it is pleasant, but rather predictable, and in the final balance I must say boring.

John Portwood



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