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Gabrieli: Music For Brass & Organ / Vis, Berliner Brass

Gabrieli / Berliner Brass / Vis
Release Date: 11/19/2013 
Label:  Pentatone   Catalog #: 5186509   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Giovanni GabrieliAndrea Gabrieli
Performer:  Andreas Sieling
Conductor:  Lucas Vis
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Mixed 
Length: 1 Hours 2 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



G. GABRIELI Canzone e Sonate: Selections. Sacrae Symphoniae: Selections. Canzons for Organ in g; in a. Ricercar Primi Toni for Organ Lucas Vis, cond; Andreas Sieling (org); Berlin Brass PENTATONE 5186 509 (SACD: 62:14)


SACD and Giovanni Gabrieli were made for each other. Surprising as it Read more may seem, though, this appears to be the first SACD devoted entirely to Gabrieli. Here on this multi-channel surround sound recording are nine numbers from the composer’s collection of 21 Canzoni e sonate, published posthumously in 1615. Additionally, there are six numbers from the 1597 collection of Sacrae Symphoniae, and three canzoni for organ solo, the source of which is not identified; the booklet note says only that two of them are world premiere recordings.


The disc is divided into three parts, interleaving works from the two major collections. The first part contains works of medium to large-sized forces; the second, works calling for fewer numbers of players—this includes the above-mentioned three solo organ pieces; and the third, works for even larger forces, such as the Sonata XX à 22 from the Canzone e Sonate, performed here by 26 brass instruments and organ divided into five choirs, with which the program concludes.


So frequently over the years have these works been taken up by famous brass groups—the Canadian, Empire, Chicago, and Cleveland Brass ensembles, to name four of the leading ones—we’ve pretty much come to accept that these were the instruments for which this music was scored. I’m sorry to rain on the 76-trombone parade, but this is unsubstantiated on one count and ridiculous on another.


It’s unsubstantiated because we know from the printed edition and historical sources that Gabrieli’s 17 canzoni and four sonati were intended per sonar con ogni sorte de instrumenti con il basso per l’organo (“to be played on all sorts of instruments with the organ bass”). Moreover, only a few of the pieces were specifically orchestrated by the composer, and the organ bass may have been a spinet, harpsichord, lute, guitar, cittern, chittarone, small harp, positive, or regal organ, each instrument playing a different accompaniment or each playing with its own choir. One of the numbers Gabrieli did orchestrate himself, the aforementioned Sonata XX à 22, was scored for a combination of brass, strings, and woodwinds.


The ridiculous count is the fact that many of the brass instruments heard in these various brass ensemble recordings, including those on the present Berlin Brass disc, did not exist in Gabrieli’s day, and those that did were nothing like their modern counterparts in use today. I’m fairly sure, for example, that Gabrieli would not have known what a euphonium was, nor could he have imagined the fully chromatic instruments made possible by the invention of valves, which didn’t come into being until the early 19th century. I shudder to think what this music would sound like played by an ensemble of sackbuts and cornetts.


Perhaps a more interesting question than the one surrounding the instrumental scoring of these works is the one concerning their purpose. Giovanni Gabrieli (c. 1555–1612), who followed in the footsteps of his uncle, Andrea Gabrieli (1532/33–1585), and Adrian Willaert (c. 1490–1562), was among a group of Italian composers, some in Venice, others elsewhere, who, working independently of each other, ushered in a new period in music, the Baroque.


While Jacopo Peri and Monteverdi were raising the curtain on opera, Gabrieli, unknowingly, was laying the foundations for the Baroque concerto grosso principle, in which the stereophony of spatially separated instrumental groups played an important role. Taking advantage of the resonating interiors of St. Mark’s Cathedral in Venice, Gabrieli produced antiphonally-voiced polychoral and instrumental works designed to fill the vast space with reverberating sound, surrounding his listeners with echo effects that bounced off the walls and came at them from all directions. It’s not without reason that this period in music has been referred to as the “colossal Baroque.”


But this begs the question of “why.” Other than an experimental exercise or just getting off on it, what was the purpose? St. Mark’s may have been a magnificent specimen of a cathedral, but it was, after all, a church. It wasn’t a venue for demolition derbies. Gabrieli’s massed choral works set to liturgical texts could be justified, but what about the strictly instrumental works, like those on this disc that had no religious purpose?


The best, indeed, the only, answer I’ve found to this question is that Gabrieli did not compose these works to the glory of God or the Church, but to celebrate the ostentatious splendor of Venice and the wealth of its doges and leading citizens. In fact, Venice at this time was an enclave of relative religious freedom, on a number of occasions inviting reprimands and interdictions from Rome for laxity in enforcing Church doctrine; and, as an important center of commerce and trade, the city reveled in its affluence and independence. In a way, then, I suppose you could say that these big, showy instrumental works by Gabrieli were at least partially intended to flaunt the grandeur that was Venice in the late 16th and early 17th centuries.


Lucas Vis and the Berlin Brass have put together a smart program, which alternates works of varying numbers and combinations of instruments from two of Gabrieli’s main collections, so as to avoid the monotony that can set in from listening to over an hour’s worth of music in which mainly modal harmonic progressions and cadences and still largely Renaissance-sounding rhythmic patterns hold sway.


The Berlin Brass, an ensemble founded in 1999, is composed of a core group made up of four trumpets, horn, tuba, four trombones, and percussion. For this recording, the group is augmented by players from various Berlin-based orchestras, plus a number of freelancers and, of course, organist Andreas Sieling. Lucas Vis’s appearance as conductor here is perhaps a bit surprising, for he is best known as a specialist in contemporary music, having worked with Bruno Maderna, Mauricio Kagel, Louis Andriessen, Stockhausen, and John Cage.


I doubt you’ll find a disc of Gabrieli’s works for brass played any better than they are here, and I know you won’t find a more spectacular-sounding recording of them than this one, made in the Berlin Dom. So, if Gabrieli’s instrumental music is your bliss, this PentaTone SACD is strongly recommended.


FANFARE: Jerry Dubins
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Works on This Recording

1.
Canzoni et sonate (21): Canzon XV a 10, C 208 by Giovanni Gabrieli
Conductor:  Lucas Vis
Period: Renaissance 
Written: Italy 
Date of Recording: 02/2013 
Venue:  Berliner Dom 
Length: 3 Minutes 57 Secs. 
2.
Canzoni et sonate (21): Canzon VI a 7, C 200 by Giovanni Gabrieli
Conductor:  Lucas Vis
Period: Renaissance 
Written: Italy 
Date of Recording: 02/2013 
Venue:  Berliner Dom 
Length: 2 Minutes 54 Secs. 
3.
Sacrae symphoniae, Book 1: Sonata octavi toni a 12 by Giovanni Gabrieli
Conductor:  Lucas Vis
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1597; Venice, Italy 
Date of Recording: 02/2013 
Venue:  Berliner Dom 
Length: 4 Minutes 40 Secs. 
4.
Canzon a IV, C 194 by Giovanni Gabrieli
Conductor:  Lucas Vis
Period: Renaissance 
Date of Recording: 02/2013 
Venue:  Berliner Dom 
Length: 2 Minutes 34 Secs. 
5.
Canzoni et sonate (21): Canzon XVI a 12 by Giovanni Gabrieli
Conductor:  Lucas Vis
Period: Renaissance 
Written: Venice, Italy 
Date of Recording: 02/2013 
Venue:  Berliner Dom 
Length: 3 Minutes 21 Secs. 
6.
Canzon francese for Organ, C 232 by Giovanni Gabrieli
Performer:  Andreas Sieling (Organ)
Conductor:  Lucas Vis
Period: Renaissance 
Written: France 
Date of Recording: 02/2013 
Venue:  Berliner Dom 
Length: 3 Minutes 9 Secs. 
7.
Canzon III a 4, C 188 by Giovanni Gabrieli
Conductor:  Lucas Vis
Period: Renaissance 
Date of Recording: 02/2013 
Venue:  Berliner Dom 
Length: 1 Minutes 43 Secs. 
8.
Canzoni (6), 1608: Canzon a 4, C 186 "La Spiritata" by Giovanni Gabrieli
Conductor:  Lucas Vis
Period: Renaissance 
Written: Italy 
Date of Recording: 02/2013 
Venue:  Berliner Dom 
Length: 2 Minutes 39 Secs. 
9.
Il secondo libro de ricercari: Ricercar del primo tono by Andrea Gabrieli
Performer:  Andreas Sieling (Organ)
Conductor:  Lucas Vis
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 16th Century; Italy 
Date of Recording: 02/2013 
Venue:  Berliner Dom 
Length: 1 Minutes 58 Secs. 
10.
Canzoni et sonate (21): Canzon IV a 6, C 189 by Giovanni Gabrieli
Conductor:  Lucas Vis
Period: Renaissance 
Written: Italy 
Date of Recording: 02/2013 
Venue:  Berliner Dom 
Length: 2 Minutes 2 Secs. 
11.
Canzon II a 4, C 187 by Giovanni Gabrieli
Conductor:  Lucas Vis
Period: Renaissance 
Written: Italy 
Date of Recording: 02/2013 
Venue:  Berliner Dom 
Length: 2 Minutes 13 Secs. 
12.
Sacrae symphoniae, Book 1: Sonata pian e forte alla quarta bassa by Giovanni Gabrieli
Conductor:  Lucas Vis
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1597; Venice, Italy 
Date of Recording: 02/2013 
Venue:  Berliner Dom 
Length: 4 Minutes 20 Secs. 
13.
Canzoni et sonate (21): Canzon I a 5 by Giovanni Gabrieli
Conductor:  Lucas Vis
Period: Renaissance 
Written: Venice, Italy 
Date of Recording: 02/2013 
Venue:  Berliner Dom 
Length: 2 Minutes 47 Secs. 
14.
Canzoni et sonate (21): Sonata XIX a 15 by Giovanni Gabrieli
Conductor:  Lucas Vis
Period: Renaissance 
Written: Venice, Italy 
Date of Recording: 02/2013 
Venue:  Berliner Dom 
Length: 5 Minutes 44 Secs. 
15.
Canzoni et sonate (21): Canzon XVII a 12, C 210 by Giovanni Gabrieli
Conductor:  Lucas Vis
Period: Renaissance 
Written: Italy 
Date of Recording: 02/2013 
Venue:  Berliner Dom 
Length: 2 Minutes 27 Secs. 
16.
Canzoni et sonate (21): Sonata XVIII a 14 by Giovanni Gabrieli
Conductor:  Lucas Vis
Period: Renaissance 
Written: Venice, Italy 
Date of Recording: 02/2013 
Venue:  Berliner Dom 
Length: 5 Minutes 26 Secs. 
17.
Canzoni et sonate (21): Sonata XX a 22 by Giovanni Gabrieli
Conductor:  Lucas Vis
Period: Renaissance 
Written: Venice, Italy 
Date of Recording: 02/2013 
Venue:  Berliner Dom 
Length: 6 Minutes 19 Secs. 
18.
Canzona ariosa by Andrea Gabrieli
Performer:  Andreas Sieling (Organ)
Conductor:  Lucas Vis
Period: Renaissance 
Written: Italy 
Date of Recording: 02/2013 
Venue:  Berliner Dom 
Length: 3 Minutes 50 Secs. 

Sound Samples

Canzoni et sonate (1615): Canzon No. 15 a 10
Canzoni et sonate (1615): Canzon No. 6 a 7
Sacrae symphoniae (1597): Sacrae symphoniae: Sonata octavi toni a 12
Canzoni et sonate (1615): Canzon No. 9
Canzoni et sonate (1615): Canzon No. 16 a 12
Canzon in G Minor
Sacrae symphoniae (1597): Canzon III a 4
Sacrae symphoniae (1597): Canzon I a 4, "La spirita"
Ricercar primi toni
Sacrae symphoniae (1597): Canzone IV a 4
Sacrae symphoniae (1597): Canzona II a 4
Sacrae symphoniae (1597): Sonata pian'e forte, alla quarta bassa, a 8
Canzon in A Minor
Canzoni et sonate (1615): Canzon I a 5
Canzoni et sonate (1615): Sonata XIX a 15
Canzoni et sonate (1615): Canzon XVII a 12
Canzoni et sonate (1615): Sonata XVIII a 14
Canzoni et sonate (1615): Sonata XX a 22

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Gorgeous recording! January 24, 2015 By Jesper J. (Store Heddinge, Denmark) See All My Reviews "One of the best recordings with brass players ever done! Excellent musicians, great music and a wonderful recording in the very fine acoustics of the Berliner Dom. Bravissimo!" Report Abuse
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