Andrea GABRIELI (c.1533-1585)
Missa Dominicalis [63:27]
Pierpaolo Turetta (organ)*; Ivan Florjanc (voice)
rec. 5-10 April 2008, Basilica di San Marco, Venice, Italy*. DDD
NEWTON CLASSICS 8802100 [63:27]
An organ mass replaces sections of both the Proper and Ordinary - specific and non-specific to times and/or occasions in the church year - of the Mass with organ verses. At the same time these provide a context in which the remainder of the mass is sung as usual - often by a single cantor.
In this recording of the Missa Dominicalis by Andrea Gabrieli, Giovanni's uncle, the cantor is Ivan Florjanc, whose style is strident, almost - certainly stentorian; a little impersonal. The organist is Pierpaolo Turetta, whose playing is clear and deliberate, although - even apart from the major limitations which rule this CD out of serious consideration - the instrument sounds 'breathy', and fuzzy at times.
Gabrieli's music is beautiful, dignified, graceful and highly expressive. In performance in the sixteenth century, especially in St Mark's, would have been impressive and would have added immeasurably to the impact that Gabrieli's music made to the devotional experience.
Sadly, this CD has real drawbacks: to be charitable, it's not clear whether Newton - whose 'centenary of issues' it apparently celebrates - intended it to be considered as a single performance. It certainly should have been. The organ sections were recorded in San Marco - on the Gaetano Callido organ of 1766. The location of the vocal segments is not published.
Unfortunately this separation is a huge flaw which makes it hard to recommend the recording. It really sounds like two different projects, two separate recordings! That could have been got around if the differences between the two acoustics and edits between them had been handled properly.
Extremely poor edits and stark differences in acoustic as well as intrusive gaps between the 49 vocal and organ tracks are so intrusive as to remove any sense that you are listening to a single or singly-conceived work.
Intrusive pauses and 'whoofs' as almost each of the sound/silence/sound transitions on the CD occurs give such a strong impression of switching between sources that any atmosphere, any sense of a single composition, is all but lost.
On more than one occasion - the jarring transition between the Laudamus Te and Benedicimus Te [tr.s 13,14], for instance - there is a remnant of the organ portion which has just been abruptly cut off heard again as the cantor begins - but after the inter-track gap! At the end of that same organ segment, the instrument's dying note is cut off prematurely.
Then at the end of the second section of the Sanctus [tr.30], for example, most of the organ's final note is lost to an abrupt edit; then the intrusive pause between tracks; then that same organ note's final few centi-seconds as part of the next track can be heard. The same thing happens between sections IV and V of the Intonatio [trs. 39-40]; a great pity since this is the only version of this work in the catalogue.
The booklet is nicely written, informative and describes the place in history of the organ mass and the handful of similar works tacked onto the main piece.
Mark Sealey
Major recording and editing errors make it impossible to recommend this disc.