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The Venetian Brass Album
Andrea GABRIELI (1510-1586)
Ricercar del duodecimo tuono [2:04]

Gioseppi GUAMI (1540-1611)
Canzon 6 [1:20]

Claudio MERULO (1533-1604)
Canzon vigesima terza 5 [1:22]

Ricercar del sesto tuono [2:30]

Constanzo ANTEGNATI (1549-1624)
Canzon vigesima (La moranda) [2:04]

Canzon 9 (La battera) [1:47]

Giralomo FRESCOBALDI (1583-1643)
Canzon vigesima prima 5 [1:32]

Giovanni GABRIELI (1557-1612)
Canzon seconda 4 [2:21]

Canzon vigesimaquarta 8 [2:56]

Bastian CHILESE (?)
Canzon trigesimaseconda [2:29]

Orindio BARTOLINI (?)
Canzon trigesima 8 [1:46]

Pietro LAPPI (?)
Canzon 26, La negrona [3:39]

Canzon vigesimaottava [1:26]

Canzon vigesimanona 8 [1:46]

Peter Sacco (1928-2000)
Three Psalms for Brass Quintet and Tenor [10:22]

Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra brass section/Lester Remsen
San Francisco Symphony Orchestra/Lester Remsen (tr. 1-14)
Los Angeles Brass Society Quintet (tr. 15-17)
Text enclosed
rec. 1978, no venue listed.
Recordings have previously appeared on Avant and Crystal LPs.

This disc is a distinctly “mixed-bag”. On the plus side we get to hear some of the best brass players in America at the time of recording (1978). This includes trumpeter Thomas Stevens and tubist Roger Bobo. We also get to hear several pieces that are hard to find even in today’s early-music friendly world, not to speak of what of what was common thirty years ago. The negative side is that of the fourteen sixteen and seventeenth-century pieces recorded here twelve are canzones and two ricercars. This makes for a lack of variety that becomes wearing. Of course one could just listen to two or three tracks in a sitting, but I did not have that luxury.

The overall playing on this disc can be described as crisp and smooth-flowing, but not always gripping, although again that may be due to the choice of repertoire. The Guami and Frescobaldi Canzone 5 get the most drive from the players as does the work by the little-known Chilese. I found the pieces by Antegnati the least interesting. It should be noted that first eight tracks are four and five part pieces. Tracks nine through fourteen are works in eight parts and we enter different territory here as the players produce a truly orchestral sound, although a reedy one. As mentioned the Chilese is a stand-out for its spiritedness. The cohesion of the players in the Guami 8 is impressive. The well-known piece by Lappi demonstrates the contrapuntal skill of the combined players with impressive work by the trombones. The Gabrieli that follows belongs to the trumpets, making this piece perhaps the most virtuosic on the disc. This is followed by the Frescobaldi, which again shows off the players’ abilities in counterpoint. After fourteen tracks from the long-ago Italy we switch to a piece written in 1966 for the unusual ensemble of five brass and tenor. The performers are the well-known Los Angeles Brass Society Quintet. I assume this piece was added to fill out the Venetian disc on transfer to CD, although even so the entire CD is only forty minutes long. Sacco taught at San Francisco State University at the time the Venetian Album was originally recorded and perhaps is included as another example of the ability of brass players in the area at that time. As for the piece itself it is a quite serviceable setting of the texts, although occasionally the brass detracts from the voice. The piece itself is in a slightly modern idiom. Sacco sings the vocal part quite creditably. 

No recording venue is listed in the notes, although there is a cover picture of the players in a church. For the time the recording quality is excellent and shows few of the defects sometimes associated with brass music in such surroundings. This recording will be of great interest to brass enthusiasts and admirers of brass playing. However, the lack of formal variety in the program and the short duration of the disc will not commend it to most buyers.

William Kreindler


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