One of the most grown-up review sites around

Apollo's Fire

Search MusicWeb Here

     
  
 

 

International mailing


  Founder: Len Mullenger             Senior Editor: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider

Brahms Symphony 4 Dvorak Symphony 9
Peter Aronsky (piano) Les Délices du Piano"
IL Carnevale di Venezia Clarinet with orchestra

Sinfonie Concertanti for two flutes and orchestra

TUDOR RECORDS

TROUBADISC

A most rewarding CD
Renate Eggebrecht violin

NORTHERN FLOWERS

World Premiere
Weinberg’s Concertino (cello)!

AVIE

Irish-Appalachian Celebration

REFERENCE RECORDINGS

Nick Barnard review
Michael Cookson review



an inspirational performance


An indispensable acquisition


The finest we have had in years


bewitching sound


Simply amazing


A splendid addition


One of the most enjoyable


quite superb!


utterly essential


A wonderful introduction


An outstanding CD


cheer-raising


One of the finest versions

RECORDING OF THE MONTH

Support us financially by purchasing this from

Gabrieli for Brass: Venetian Extravaganza
Royal Academy of Music and Juilliard School Brass/ Reinhold Friedrich
rec. 2017, St Jude-on-the-Hill, Hampstead Garden Suburb, London
LINN RECORDS CKD581 [76:00]

One of the great joys and advantages of working from home is that the neighbours tend to go out early doors; one can put the sound system on and turn the volume up confident that good relationships developed over years are not under threat. The present sumptuously engineered disc, appropriately titled A Venetian Extravaganza is dominated by the sonatas and canzoni of Giovanni Gabrieli, although to provide a little context there are similar pieces by five of his contemporaries of whom Frescobaldi is the best known. It is blasting out of my speakers (again) as I write this and it sounds absolutely glorious. The Canaletto adorning its cover should be partially obscured by one of those (removable) ‘Play Loud’ stickers that one used to see on the albums of Motorhead and Iron Maiden. It is music that sounds especially uplifting on a bright spring morning. These performances have delighted and moved me in equal measure – and while the sonics are spectacular they are utterly natural.

Stylistically one might expect these pieces to be a little too homogenous to play the whole 76 minutes at one sitting, and one would be wrong – there is infinite variety here and the quality of playing, be it in solo terms, or in small or large ensemble, is breath-taking. It is hard to believe this is essentially an ad hoc group, a collaboration of students from the Juilliard and the Royal Academy. The playing is poised and fluent, the ensemble splendidly precise. They are helped by the superb recording – outstanding even by Linn’s standards – it is unlikely that the acoustic of St Jude-on-the-Hill could have been bettered by that of the Basilica di San Marco itself.

This transatlantic student ‘supergroup’ is conducted here by the experienced trumpeter Reinhold Friedrich who happens to be Visiting Professor of the instrument at the Royal Academy. The works included here involve ensembles of between 4 and 22 trumpets and trombones; Benedict Williams is the omnipresent organist. The layouts and personnel involved in each work are helpfully detailed in the booklet. While the loud playing inevitably raises the roof it never sounds cluttered or forced. If the devil is in the detail the clarity of the part-writing leaps from the speakers, the security and confidence in the playing of these young performers is breath-taking.

Friedrich’s experience really comes to the fore in some of the more stately and reflective music. A case in point is the extraordinary Sonata XVIII a 14: at once it demonstrates Gabrieli’s genius for form in a nutshell. In six and a half minutes of perfection, its structure proves the equal of any of the extraordinary churches this music would have graced over the centuries. The whole constitutes a graceful arch of finely-detailed phrases; its success depends both on fastidious ensemble and virtuosic solo ornamentation. This is achieved seemingly effortlessly here, in a deeply-felt performance, superbly led by Friedrich and all the more moving for its almost unassuming lack of showiness. Its abrupt ending is managed perfectly and truly surprises.

The more familiar Sonata pian e forte a 8 receives as fresh an account as I have ever heard on disc – it radiates warmth, splendour and reveals the originality of its conception anew. The disc ends with the Sonata XX a 22, Gabrieli’s most ambitious instrumental work, at least in scale. It duly receives a magisterial performance from these energised student players and epitomises the qualities of this disc. The differentiation of the five choirs involved must provide a massive challenge for the engineers but the Linn team have produced a spectacular yet utterly faithful sound picture. The concentration and musicality of these readings merit nothing less.

Stephanie Dyer’s fascinating notes address how Gabrieli’s formal strategies quickly took hold among other composers in Italy and elsewhere; subsequently they were taken up by contemporaries and successors alike. Short works by five of them further enhance the qualities of this disc and provide context as well as contrast. Frescobaldi’s Canzon terza a due canti is possibly the best known of these and receives a gleaming account with agile interplay between the three brass players; Massaino’s Canzon XXXIII a 8 is the only trumpet-free work on the disc – its eight trombones producing truly unique and attractive colours. Ultimately it seems churlish to pick out individual numbers – one ends up identifying ‘favourites’ but each of these pieces is distinctive and memorable when they are played and recorded like this. The 76 minutes fly by. There are absolutely no longueurs.

Academy Principal Jonathan Freeman-Attwood has produced the disc himself and in his introduction justifies the adoption of a kind of middle-ground approach between modern and period performance. While the instruments themselves are modern, decisions regarding tuning, balance and ornamentation, among other things, have been heavily influenced by ‘period-style’. This approach has been triumphantly vindicated on this very special issue. The performances are remarkable and the sound is of demonstration quality. Lovers of this repertoire should not hesitate; indeed this disc sets a new standard for it.

Richard Hanlon
 

Track list:
Giovanni GABRIELI (1554/7-1612) Canzon duodecimi toni, a 10 (II) [5:03]; Sonata octavi toni
a 12 [4:15]
Pietro LAPPI (c 1575-1630) Canzon undecima ‘La Serafina’ a 4 [2:43]
G. GABRIELI Sonata pian e forte a 8 [4:27]; Canzon V a 7 [3:06]; Canzon septimi toni a 8 (II)
[3:12]
Girolamo FRESCOBALDI (1583-1643) Canzon terza a due canti [4:55]
G. GABRIELI Sonata XVIII a 14 [6:21]; Canzon VIII a 8 [4:26]
Tiburtio MASSAINO (c.1530-1609) Canzon XXXIII a 8 [3:00]
G. GABRIELI Canzon ‘La Spiritata’ a 4 [2:50]; Canzon noni toni a 12 [3:42]; Sonata XXI ‘con
tre violini’ [4:41]
Lodovico VIADANA (c.1560-1627) Sinfonia "La bergamasca" a 8 [3:11]
G. GABRIELI Canzon III a 6 [3:04]
Giovanni Battista BUONAMENTE (c. 1595-1642) Sonata a 6 [2:39]
G. GABRIELI Sonata XIX a 15 [5:34]
Cesario GUSSAGO (c. 1579-1612) La Bottana a 4 [2:43]
G. GABRIELI Sonata XX a 22 [6:39]

 

 




Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and keep us afloat

 

New Releases

Naxos Classical


Nimbus Podcast


Obtain 10% discount


Special offer 50% off

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
   
Rob Barnett
Senior Editor
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
   Vacant
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger