Classical CD Reviews
Echo – Glory of GABRIELI = SCHEIDT: Echo; G. GABRIELI: Canzon septimi toni; Sonata pian e forte; 5 Canzons & Canzonas; MONTEVERDI: Suite for L’Orfeo – The Canadian Brass – Opening Day Ent. Group
Published on October 29, 2009
Echo – Glory of GABRIELI = SCHEIDT: Echo; G. GABRIELI: Canzon septimi toni; Sonata pian e forte; 5 Canzons & Canzonas; MONTEVERDI: Suite for L’Orfeo – The Canadian Brass – Opening Day Ent. Group ODR 7380, 48:02 ****:
This is a magnificent program of spatial Renaissance brass music performed by brass players who are probably far better, and playing on greatly improved instruments to those available in 16th century Venice. However, I must express my disappointment at the recording being released only as a standard CD and not a multichannel SACD or Blu-ray. Giovanni Gabrieli was the great pioneer of spatial music, writing for single, double and triple choirs of both voices and brass instruments, for performance in the magnificent gold-mosaic-lined St. Marks Cathedral. Although the Toronto-based producers of this CD did set up a widely-separated stereo effect – with the Canadian Brass quintet on one side and the Echo Brass trio on the other side – heard on four of the tracks – it is still nothing like the possibilities multichannel reproduction would have offered.
There appears to be little of the original Canadian Brass left. I only see tuba player Charles Daellenbach’s name here, and the names of the other four members are unfamiliar to me. I remember fondly seeing a live performance by the quintet years ago, and for a transcriptions of some familiar ballet music, one of the members came out in a little tutu – perhaps it was Daellenbach. The other newer members are superb, as are the three members of Echo Brass. The call-and-response effects on the four two-ensemble tracks are great fun to hear. Orfeo of 1607 is recognized as the first famous opera that is still performed today. Based on the Greek myth about Orpheus, it is full of stirring melodies which transcribe very well to the 11 short selections of the Orfeo Suite. The transcription was made by the quintet’s lead trumpeter, Brando Ridenour. But the main attraction here for my ears were the seven Gabrieli brass selections – played with more skill than I’ve heard on other recordings, their distinctive harmonies a testament to the unique case of a single building – St. Mark’s – changing musical history and composition.
- John Sunier