Monday, 10 December 2007

25. Giovanni Gabrieli - Sacrae Symphoniae (published 1597, 1615)


Title: Music For San Rocco
Performer: Gabrieli Consort and Players
Director: Paul McCreesh
Year: 1995
Length: 1 hour 18 minutes


Only a part of this album consists of the Sacrae Symphoniae, but the whole album works so well as it is that I just listened to all of it. This is a huge leap forward in church music, it is epic in scale and the whole aesthetic of baroque is rearing it's head right on top of it.

This is just one powerful collection of music, with the addition of intrumentation, mainly brass to the loud and powerful choirs this is joyous and beautiful music indeed. And it is pretty complex, the interplay of the instruments, voices and choirs makes it pretty interesting to listen to carefully, particularly in the In Eccelsis and the Magnificat.

This is Renaissance music at its most developed and beautiful, and also church music at its most powerful, this is the kind of music that really deserves to be listened to in its original setting, in this case at the Church of San Rocco in Venice. But the impact on you coming from the CD player is good enough to merit an inclusion in your music library.

Final Grade



From Wikipedia:

Like composers before and after him, he would use the unusual layout of the San Marco church, with its two choir lofts facing each other, to create striking spatial effects. Most of his pieces are written so that a choir or instrumental group will first be heard from the left, followed by a response from the musicians to the right (antiphon). While this polychoral style had been extant for decades— Adrian Willaert may have made use of it first, at least in Venice—Gabrieli pioneered the use of carefully specified groups of instruments and singers, with precise directions for instrumentation, and in more than two groups. The acoustics were such in the church—and they have changed little in four hundred years—that instruments, correctly positioned, could be heard with perfect clarity at distant points. Thus instrumentation which looks strange on paper, for instance a single string player set against a large group of brass instruments, can be made to sound, in San Marco, in perfect balance.

In particular, one of his best-known pieces, In Ecclesiis, is a showcase of such polychoral techniques, making use of four separate groups of instrumental and singing performers, underpinned by the omnipresent organ and continuo.

Magnificat for 33 voices:

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