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|In Festo Sanctissimae Trinitatis
Giovanni GABRIELI (c.1555-1612)
In ecclesiis à 14 [7:15]
Canzona seconda à 6 [3:49]
Benedictus es Dominus à 8 [4:44]
Confitebor tibi Domine à 13 (in tre cori) [5:26]
Benedicta sit sancta trinitas [5:15]
Canzon decimasettima à 12 (in tre cori) [3:40]
Jubilate Deo à 10 [4:47]
Canzon settima à 7 [3:26]
Domine Dominus noster à 8 (in due cori) [3:44]
Canzon per sonar primi toni à 8 (in due cori) [3:47]
Dulcis Jesu patris imago - Sonata con voce à 20 [6:49]
Canzon seconda (a due organi di legno) [2:50]
Omnes gentes à 16 (in quattro cori) [3:17]
Andrea GABRIELI (1532/33-1585)
Toccata ottava (organo da chiesa) [1:42]
Ricercar quinto tono (organo da chiesa) [2:55]
(soprano); Eric Mentzel (alto); Hans Jörg
Mammel (tenor); Stephan Van Dyck (tenor)
La Fenice; Chœur de Chambre de Namur/Jean Tubéry
rec. 5–8 July, 1998, Église Saint-Apollinaire de Bolland,
The music of Andrea (uncle) and Giovanni (nephew) Gabrieli
is often described as grand, solemn, magnificent, majestic,
splendid. With a minimum of self-consciousness, La Fenice
and the Namur Chamber Choir confirm every one of these
appropriate adjectives in an hour of brilliant sacred choral
music making on this reissue from Ricercar.
There is a risk that such extrovert qualities might be
all that one hears – or at least that chords-to-impress
make the more lasting impression: the sun reflecting from
the brass and not the former’s warmth, or the latter’s
true colours. So it’s significant and gratifying that both
instrumentalists and singers on this recording bring out
the subtleties of the music… nuanced rhythms, delicate
textures and a range of tempi from the wistful (listen
to the opening In ecclesiis, for example, tr.1)
through the hesitatingly joyous (Canzona
seconda à 6, tr.2) to the heavy-hearted
(Benedictus es Dominus tr.3).
The lion’s share of the music here is by Giovanni, with
under five minutes – just two pieces – by Andrea. It’s
all music that was played as part of the celebrations held
in St Mark’s, Venice, every year between Christmas and
Whitsun. Inevitably, the glory of La Serenissima was
being shown off in these expansive and opulent pieces every
bit as much as the God to whom they were ostensibly directed
was being venerated. That’s not to say that the nice variety
of forms here in any way lacks conviction or weight. The
sense of devotion is almost palpable.
The music is thoughtful as well as forthright, humble in
its way - there is as much introspection as there is spectacle.
And confidently played. La Fenice, Namur chamber choir
and Tubéry are well aware of the
need to exude judicious self-confidence in their performance.
In particular, these works for the Feast of the Holy Trinity
clearly took the acoustics of St. Mark’s into account -
and possibly the dispositions of singers and players within
that Basilica. Likewise they probably acknowledged and
adhered to the musical tastes of the current Doge. We can
say, in fact, that local allegorical traditions - the closeness
to the lagoon, the particular enemies with which The Republic
engaged at any one time of its history, for example - played
a decisive part in the tenor of music composed here; adaptations
in liturgical practice were made to reflect these preoccupations.
These forces under Jean Tubéry
capture such musical priorities very well. In their playing
there is indeed a serenity and unrushed nature. Though
no dragging of momentum lets the music falter; successive
melodic ideas all unfold at their own pace and reveal the
depths of Gabrieli’s marriage of music to belief on a scale
that has much more to do with beauty than bombast.
are over a dozen motets and canzoni etc on this
CD. They are rich in sound painting as well … discords
for evil; different tessiture to convey personality;
harmony and rhythm in the service of ecstatic climaxes
and so on. Similarly, there is symbolism: mostly triple
forces corresponding to the Trinity – in Canzon decimasettima,
for example, tr.8. Such effects would be easy to overdo.
These musicians never come close to falling into that trap,
though. Their playing, rather, is spare; yet expressive
and communicative. Such a high level of intensity is almost
inevitable with such dramatic and public music. But it
is not tiring on the ear.
are just a couple of occasions when the overlay of choral
singing upon the organ becomes slightly diminished in focus;
not muddy – just a little under driven. This should not
detract, though, from what is first class music-making.
The acoustic could be a little more resonant; maybe that’s
a deliberate decision not to over-dramatise. The accompanying
notes are helpful and contain the texts in prose form.
Gerard Hoffnung CDs
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