After their award winning recording of the Striggio 40-part Mass, Fagiolini return with more baroque music for huge forces from the extraordinary year of 1612, which saw the death of Giovanni Gabrieli and his pupil Hans Leo Hassler. Both were masters of the "Massive Baroque" Style of extreme opulence for multiple choirs.
The centrepiece is the crowning glory of the late Renaissance - Gabrieli's Magnificat for a massive seven choirs - a work never before recorded as the music for five of the choirs has been lost. Conductor Robert Hollingworth and Renaissance scholar Hugh Keyte have now taken on the enormous task of reconstructing parts for the missing choirs.
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ITALIAN VESPERS 1612 • Robert Hollingworth, dir; I Fagiolini • DECCA B0016794-02 (78:40 Text and Translation)
Music of VIADANA, G. GABRIELI, BARBARINO, A. GABRIELI, PALESTRINA, MONTEVERDI, SORIANO
Another program that more or less reconstructs a historical event, as we just noted last issue under Lo Sposalizio, this one is a celebration of the feast of the Most Holy Rosary following the battle of Lepanto in 1571, which turned the tide of Turkish control of the Mediterranean. This reconstruction dates from the publication by Ludovico Grossi da Viadana in 1612 of the five psalms for Vespers of the Blessed Virgin heard here. The victory of the allied navies commanded by Don Juan of Austria was attributed to prayers to the Virgin Mary using the popular devotion of the rosary, and the result was the establishment of the feast of the Most Holy Rosary on the date of the battle, October 7. (The feast was originally called Our Lady of Victory.) Robert Hollingworth has filled out the celebration of Vespers with music by six other composers, noting that Giovanni Gabrieli died in that year. This is not a reconstruction of a particular moment in time but only of a festal celebration in northern Italy when the music of these composers was in general use.
Viadana’s psalms and opening versicle are set for four choirs. Hollingworth has distributed his forces to provide voices with theorbo and organ on choir I, voices only on choir II, and instruments with organ accompaniment on choirs III and IV. The Magnificat for 20 (and 28) voices is largely reconstructed by Hugh Keyte after surviving parts by Giovanni Gabrieli. The Vespers is followed by a motet, his In ecclesiis for four choirs, partly reconstructed as well. The psalms and canticle are preceded by chant antiphons, the usual group for Marian feasts, and followed by a series of antiphon substitutes by Bartolomeo Barbarino, Andrea Gabrieli, Viadana himself, Palestrina, and Monteverdi. All are vocal or choral except the fifth, an organ toccata by Andrea Gabrieli. The last substitute antiphon is Monteverdi’s “Ab aeterno ordinata sum.”
This disc is a conscious follow-up to Hollingworth’s previous disc of Striggio (Fanfare 35:1; but see also 35:6). Again he adds the English Cornett and Sackbut Ensemble to his regular forces, and this time he uses a Cambridge schola, De Profundis, for the chants. The contents show in detail how the singers and players are assigned for each track. For example, the hymn is the familiar Ave maris stella for Marian Vespers, so verses 1 and 7 use Monteverdi’s 1610 setting, verses 2, 4, and 6 use one by Francesco Soriano (with only three strings in verse 6), and verses 3 and 5 use the chant setting that underlies the rest. All the singers and players execute with loving precision. The service of Vespers is completed with capitulum, versicle, and collect, small parts that are always chanted. Despite the diverse sources of the various parts (a normal way to sing a liturgical Office), they blend in a satisfying whole. A photo taken from the west gallery shows the performing forces assembled in the gothic space of St. John’s, Upper Norwood, suggesting a venue that suits the music perfectly. Intelligently conceived, neatly executed, this disc exemplifies the turn of the 17th century in an original way.
In Ecclesiis a 14, C. 78by Giovanni Gabrieli Conductor:
Period: Renaissance Written: Italy
Average Customer Review: ( 2 Customer Reviews )
Somewhat underwhelmingAugust 5, 2012By james oppenheimer (Hyde Park, NY)See All My Reviews"The music on which this production is based appears to be truly magnificent. The instrumentalists seem to be excellent. Actually, the singers are not all that bad either, but the general impression I got was that this was music being done mostly by a men's ensemble. While there are some fine female soloists, the general choral sound is male, and it would have been much more full and opulent, had it been a sound of both male and female voices, or perhaps, if one wishes to retain the sexism of the original world, men and boys. It seems to me that I have heard some of the selections on this disc in full SATB format, and I much prefer that format. It produces a far grander, fuller sound. Perhaps the producer felt that the male sound is more authentic. If so, to me, it was a major disappointment. Those places where the music ought to rise to a pinnacle of sonorous grandeur are lacking in that fullness one comes to expect from the grandest of this genre of music. Authenticity is grossly over-rated, if indeed that is the issue. The recording strives to recreate an actual liturgical sound, and in so doing, it has "sanctus" bells being rung, presumably in places where they would have been appropriate in the service. To me, this merely sounded pretentious. It is not as if other recordings have never before attempted to recreate a liturgical event. I found the unnecessary addition of the bells annoying and silly. In some instances, it seemed that the recording did not fairly balance the different voices, causing some to sing over others. Not enough to be terrible, but enough to be noticed. I was moved to select this disc based on the hype (a little recorded clip found in the site where one reads about the production) that it was going to be such a grand production. Unfortunately, when the hype sets up high expectations, there is a negative effect if those expectations aren't met. Obviously, I will exercise a lot more care in selecting recordings in the future that have this kind of hype. And that means that we all lose."Report Abuse
A superb achievementJuly 15, 2012By T Price Zimmermann (Huntersville, NC)See All My Reviews"Superb recording. A trumph of engineering and authentic interpretation. Singing is absolutely ethereal. In the polyphonic parts voice lines have phenomenal clarity. Hollingworth's direction ensures purposeful forward motion throughout. A recording to treasure."Report Abuse