COMPOSERS: Byrd Banchieri,Cavaccio,D’az,G Gabrieli,Gervaise,Lassus & Tallis,Palestrina,Scheidt,Tye
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: The Glory of Gabrieli
WORKS: Works by G Gabrieli, Gervaise, Scheidt, Tye, Díaz, Palestrina, Byrd Banchieri, Cavaccio, Lassus & Tallis
PERFORMER: Empire Brass Quintet, etc
CATALOGUE NO: CD-80553
The title – surely used before – hints strongly at what sort of disc this is. It’s a compendium of big numbers played by the Empire Brass Quintet and a dozen colleagues, designed to provide a sonic thrill – a thrill which includes making the most of the spacial polyphonies of Giovanni Gabrieli’s music. With the generous resonance of the recording location – the National Music Centre at Lenox, Massachusetts – it makes an ideal vehicle for the new multi-channel formats, so it is good to hear that it is due on SACD later this spring. But for the moment good old CD, in good old stereo, is itself highly effective, if listening to sound for itself is one’s priority.
The playing is rhythmically vigorous and often brilliantly embellished. But it’s also usually incessantly loud, often with undue accent on lower registers – the tubas have a field day. Gabrieli’s music suffers less from this phenomenon than the earlier pieces also included, among which are an anonymous Gloria from c1500 and works by Cavaccio (the lovely Credidi), Gervaise, Díaz, Palestrina, Lassus, Tallis and Byrd. And an In nomine by Christopher Tye epitomises the group’s tendency to play many works as fast as possible simply in order to dazzle us the more. Dare one suggest that this isn’t necessarily the most musical response? Stephen Pettitt