In the sixteenth century, Venice was a glamorous port city, filled with fine architecture and art. At the very center of the Venetian musical culture was the Cathedral of San Marco, where Giovanni Gabrieli became organist and composer in 1585. During the next two decades, Gabrieli, a remarkably innovative composer, brought the Venetian style of musical composition to its zenith.
Now for its second Telarc release, the award-winning Empire Brass brings its superb musicianship to authenticate the music of Gabrieli, Isaac, Banchieri and Diaz. Central to the style are antiphonal choirs of instruments which capitalized on the great space of San Marco. The glorious harmonies and dance-like rhythms of this music make it instantly appealing, and today, because of its joyous nature, Gabrieli’s music is a favorite for festive occasions.
Most of the works recorded here are from a collection published in 1615, three years after Gabrieli’s death. (A few compositions by his students and contemporaries are also included.) Written on a grand scale, the pieces require eight to fifteen virtuoso brass players, divided into two or three choirs. The members of the Empire Brass, with a anumber of long-time musical colleagues, bring this spectacular music to life in a recording captured in the amazing acoustic of the Berkshire Performing Arts Center.
The most popular recording of this type ever dopne was a Gabrieli record with the brass sections of the Chicago, Cleveland and Philadelphia Orchestras. Recorded over twenty years ago, the pieces were from the 1597 collection. Most of the muisc on this recording is taken from the 1615 collection. Much more dramatic and adventurous both harmonically and structurally, this new recording should be of great interest to those who enjoyed that historic one.