music concerts by Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra
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Pavel Hass Quartet
OF THE MONTH
Mahler 9 Elder
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Ritchie Symphony 4
Seen & Heard
Editor in Chief
Andrea GABRIELI (c.1510Ė1586)
Ricercar a 4 del primo tuono [6.15]; Ricercar
a 4 del sesto tuono [5.28]; Ricercar a 4
del duodecimo tuono [3.14]; Ricercar del settimo
tuono [4.00]; Ricercar per sonar a 8 [3.54]; De
profundis clamavi [5.28]; O Sacrum Convivium [3.52]; Petit
Jacquet [1.59]; Anco che coíl partire [4.03]; Intonazione
del sesto tuono [1.09]; Missa Pater Peccavi [28.25]
Consort of Voices
His Majestys Sagbutts and Cornetts/Timothy Roberts (director
rec. 23-25 September 1999, St. Jude on the Hill, Hampstead
HYPERION HELIOS CDH55265 [66.22]
To Andrea Gabrieli - and
his nephew Giovanni - a choir wasnít necessarily a group
of singers who sang together. A choir could be a mix of singers
and instrumentalists and it was only rarely that you would
have many voices to a part. What we regard as a choral piece
could just as well be sung by a single voice with instrumental
support on the other lines. Generally composers put text
on all lines whether they thought of them as vocal or instrumental.
This is something which is too often lost sight of when
choral groups come to record this repertoire. So it is heartening
to find Hyperion re-issuing their recording of Andrea Gabrieliís Missa Pater Peccavi.
The performances are given by His Majestys Consort of Voices
and His Majestys Sagbutts and Cornetts.
The name is the key, of course; this isnít a recording originating
with a choir but with an instrumental group with its own
consort of voices.
The results are outstanding and even if the disc is
not strictly a liturgical reconstruction, the interspersing
of the mass movements between motets and instrumental pieces
makes for a satisfying whole.
Andrea Gabrieli rose through the ranks to become first
organist at St. Markís in Venice. He never became maestro di capella.
But he wrote a considerable amount of church music for St.
Markís and for other Venetian churches. The problem
is that he didnít publish it so it is difficult to date his
pieces precisely. Missa Pater Peccavi, which
is written for six-part choir, was published in 1572 and
is a parody mass, being based on Andrea Gabrieliís motet Pater peccavi in caelum, which
was published in 1565 in his earliest published collection.
For the mass six instrumentalists and organ double the
six singers, though in certain movements the scoring is reduced
to voices and organ or a mixture of voices and instruments.
The decisions about what to do when are those of Timothy
Roberts and his musicians; we donít have much to go into
specifics in this area.
But what they do is very, very convincing. The singers
are superb and provide a well-shaped and beautifully crafted
account of the mass. They and the instrumentalists also eradicate
any doubts you might have had at balancing six singers with
two cornetts and four sagbutts. Andrea Gabrieli's music isn't
generally as showy as that of his nephew. Missa Pater Peccavi is a rather sober, considered work which
richly repays the attention paid to it in this performance.
For the motets, the group uses a mixture of voices and
Profundis clamavi, from
Gabrieliís 1572 collection of penitential psalms, is performed
with just the third and fifth voices performed by singers
and the remainder by instruments. In his booklet note, Timothy
Roberts points out that when doing this you have to be careful
that you choose parts which include all the words. But when
done successfully, as it is here, the results are entrancing
as the voices are counterpointed by instruments as well as
some sections becoming instrumental ritornelli. For the communion
Sacrum convivium, a solo soprano (Anna Sarah Pickard) is accompanied
by four sackbuts to striking results.
The instrumentalists also play five Ricercars. Gabrieli
did not write much purely instrumental music and seven Ricercars
were published at the end of a collection of madrigals, raising
the question that they might have been sung. These are attractive
in their own right and help to form a varied and well-balanced
programme. The final element in this programme is a group
of organ solos, which adds an additional texture to the mix.
This is a well put-together programme, which wears its
learning lightly. Gabrieliís pieces receive superb performances
from Timothy Roberts and his forces. Whilst some people will
anticipate being disappointed that we get no large-scale
choral effects, they should have no such worries. This is
an entrancing and convincing foray into Gabrieliís sound-world
and should be on everyoneís library shelves.
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