Grand Concerto: In ecclesiis
Giovanni Gabrieli (ca. 1557-1612)
Norton Recorded Anthology of Western Music, CD 4 Tracks 28-33
Inseparable from St. Mark's Basilica, Giovanni's famous jubilation broadcasts that architecture internationally. Because of the shape of this room, we hear instrumental and vocal music combined with an equality hitherto unwanted. Thus, our first concerto. Singers sound like trumpets and sackbuts sound like singers. The Gabrieli name is promoted in this broadcast giving the beloved uncle--nephew team a fitting commemoration.
As Monteverdi benefited from Peri, Giovanni had the advantage of Andrea's output. Not to disparage Andrea, this piece is a strong combination of innovation and craft. The listener is never overwhelmed by the dimensions of this massive ensemble because Gabrieli refrains from the full impact of the group until the listener has been introduced to each choir. Throughout, we are aware of the awesome range of the group because of the contrasts between the soloists and tutti. And the tutti sections are only as long as necessary.
What I like about the In ecclesiis
are the moments (especially track 32) when we hear the soloists responding to each other. If we were to take away the strong cadences and add an exotic rhythm section we might have a very middle-eastern sound. The improvisations in these voices allow the listener to locate an intimate space in a very large room.
Also read about St. Mark's