COMPOSERS: A Gabrieli
WORKS: Missa apostolorum
PERFORMER: More Antiquo/Giovanni Conti; Francesco Cera (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: CDS 361
A significant reappraisal of Andrea Gabrieli’s career in recent years has inspired several new editions and recordings. This latest disc breaks new ground with the first issue of the Missa apostolorum. Since the original prints of Gabrieli’s three organ Masses (made between 1596 and 1605) have not survived, this performance relies on a manuscript copy in the Turin National Library and plainchant canti firmi from Gardano’s Graduale Romanum printed in Venice in 1591.
The deliberate poise with which Conti’s choir articulates the Gregorian chant evokes a feeling of weighty reverence that is sometimes at odds with the lively brilliance of Gabrieli’s keyboard-writing. Despite mellifluous chanting in the Alleluia, robust and committed singing in the Credo, and buoyant rhythms in the free pieces, an uncomfortable mood of rigid austerity prevails.
Francesco Cera plays the organ with sensitivity and flair, and so it is a. shame that the reverberant atmosphere sometimes blurs the finer details of his keyboard virtuosity. The chosen registrations are generally well suited to the text in the Mass verses and the character of the other pieces, although the tremolo stop in the ‘Ad elevationem’ sounds mawkish, and the restrained setting for Merulo’s Agnus Dei is too sombre. Nicholas Rast