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Tuesday, April 27, 2004
  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

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In January 2004 I starting writing an opinion for each selection in the Norton Recorded Anthology of Western Music. Now, more than a year later, I am almost finished. Soon, I will have an archive full of opinions on the music we so carelessly call "classical." And no one can stop me.

Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Director of the Contemporary Performer's Workshop... Music Teacher for St. Aloysius Gonzaga School... Principal 'Cellist of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra... Composer

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