GIOVANNI GABRIELI: Music for San Rocco – Gabrieli Consort and Players, Paul McCreesh, director – DG/Archiv

by | Sep 1, 2005 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

GIOVANNI GABRIELI: Music for San Rocco – Gabrieli Consort and
Players, Paul McCreesh, director – DG/Archiv 00289 477 0862 – 2
Multichannel SACDs, 79 min. ****:

On the sixth day of August, 1608, English traveler Thomas Coryat
witnessed a musical performance by the Scuola Grande di San Rocco; the
performance marked St. Roch’s Day, and Coryat’s detailed account offers
one of the most dramatic descriptions that exists of early seventeenth
century music making. An intense amount of scholarly research among the
Venetian archives has resulted in this disc, Music for San Rocco, which
is a historically informed recreation of the day’s musical festivities.
While a good deal of the program presented here is based on scholarly
speculation, there’s also significant documentation to support the
musical choices here, including the work of falsettist Bartolomeo
Barbarino, whose performance on the day is documented in the Venetian
archives.

The performances include a number of motets, intertwined with
instrumentals in the form of both sonatas for diverse instruments and
various pieces written for the organ. Any lover of early seventeenth
century music will be nothing less than thrilled by the works presented
here, and the sound quality is spectacular. The surround mix offers a
stage perspective, and the listener is interspersed among the players
and vocalists.

My only quibble has to do with the following: why is this set, which
totals barely 79 minutes, offered on two SACDs? There’s nothing here to
offer any reason for the break in the performance from disc one to disc
two, and though I know recorded media blanks are no longer a
significant cost item, still – what is the logic? Regardless, very
highly recommended, especially to lovers of authentic instrument
performances.

— Tom Gibbs

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