sábado, 5 de enero de 2013

The Choir Project al día [5-I-2013]

Giovanni Gabrieli [c.1554/1557-1612]: Quem vidistis pastores? a 16.
The King's Consort - Robert King.
Venetian polycohoral Epiphany.

    Robert King wrote about Gabrieli's Christmas Motets:
"Thomas Coryate, writing in his Crudities hastily gobbled up in five Moneth’s Travels was transported almost beyond all words by his discovery at the Venetian Church of San Rocco in 1608 of
‘… the best musicke that ever I did in all my life both in the morning and the afternoone, so good that I would willingly goe an hundred miles a foote at any time to hear the like … this feast consisted principally of Musicke, which was both vocall and instrumentall, so good, so delectable, so rare, so admirable, so superexcellent, that it did even ravish and stupifie all those strangers that never heard the like. But how others were affected with it I knew not: for mine own part I can say this, that I was for the time even rapt up with Saint Paul into the third heaven …’

    Of the singers too he was equally enthused, for ‘there were three or foure so excellent that I think few or none in Christendome do excell them, especially one, who had such a peerelesse and (as I might in a manner say) such a supernaturall voice for sweetnesses, that I think there was never a better singer in all the world …’

    We do not know for sure whose music it was that received such praise, but it could easily have been that of Giovanni Gabrieli. He was the most influential Venetian musical figure of his time, famed both as a composer and as a teacher of a number of distinguished pupils, including Heinrich Schütz, and his music was circulated widely through the publication of major collections of works in 1597 and posthumously in 1615. From 1585 to his death Gabrieli was organist at both the religious confraternity of the Scuola Grande di San Rocco and at St Mark’s, Venice (where he was responsible not only for the music but also for procuring extra instrumentalists and singers for the more important festivals and feast days). In addition, after his uncle Andrea’s death in 1586 he took over the role as principal composer at St Mark’s.
   Music in Venice was inextricably bound up with civic life, for state processions, civic ceremonies and some forty main religious festivals each year demanded music to match the splendour of the occasion. The Feast of Christmas demanded some of the grandest and most spectacular music of all. In 1607 Jean-Baptiste Duval of the French Embassy reported that at St Mark’s there were more than one thousand candles, sixty huge torches and silver lamps, together with eight choirs of voices and instruments ‘filling the church with a grand harmony’. Even allowing for enthusiastic exaggeration, it must have been a spectacular occasion. Little wonder that some of Gabrieli’s most magnificent music was composed for Christmas in St Mark’s.

  Most of Gabrieli’s motets were printed in two large collections, one published posthumously. Many are settings of texts sung on the major Venetian state festivals and are for two or more choirs in the tradition of cori spezzati. Although it is hard to date works exactly, there is a clear change of style in his later works, confirmed by the type of music that his pupils were writing. In all his works, but especially in those for more than two choirs, Gabrieli’s flair for sonorities is particularly evident, showing the ultimate development of the old motet style.

    Audite principes, too, dates from the later collection, and is scored for two five-part choirs, one six-part choir and continuo. From the opening declamatory statement, heard three times as an introduction to each choir, to the colossal block of sound as all seventeen parts unite at the midpoint before launching into the dancing triple-time gaudeamus, here is music of considerable complexity and great splendour. The final Alleluia, back in duple metre after another dance-like section, ends the work with due solemnity.

    O magnum mysterium comes from an earlier source, the 1587 collection Concerti per voci e stromenti musicali, and has a mood of subdued reverence, fitting for its subject matter, until syncopation breaks out for the closing Alleluia. In keeping with the relatively simple setting, the first choir is scored here for four voices and organ, and the second choir for solo alto and three sackbuts. Perhaps it was this latter combination (and particularly the falsettist or castrato’s ‘supernaturall voice … never a better singer in all the world’) that so transported Coryate, for it is a magical combination of sounds.

    With Salvator noster we return to the 1615 collection, and a magnificent setting for three five-part choirs and an independent continuo line. The wide variety of textures and moods contained within the motet shows Gabrieli’s responsiveness to the text, and the high instrumental lines at the top of choirs one and two, furnished with lively flourishes, and the dancing rhythms give the motet a celebratory mood. The closing Alleluia travels through a series of sections before the motet ends in a blaze of sound. Little wonder that Coryate was so transported by these rich mediterranean sounds: here indeed is music that is ‘superexcellent’!

    Quem vidistis pastores? is one of Gabrieli’s finest works. Scored in sixteen parts it comes from the posthumous volume Sacrae symphoniae … liber secundus of 1615. After the opening orchestral sinfonia, scored for two choirs of instruments and showing Gabrieli’s love of lower sonorities, the work shows elements of the later chamber style as the six singers introduce themselves one by one, accompanied by the newly introduced basso continuo. This small-scale texture continues until the full ensemble unites with awestruck majesty at O magnum mysterium. Here there are marvellous sonorities and a whole variety of textures, with grand flourishes for the word iacentem, a cutting down of the texture for in praesepio, magnificent block chords at et admirabile and a sumptuous ending."

    In my opinion it is very difficult to find an example of a more celebratory Christmas music that we can hear in the Venetian Polychoralism. Giovanni Gabrieli is a wonderful example of this.
This piece is a perfect example of this style, with the Symphonia and use of rethoric elements more characteristics and the fantastic idiomatic treatment of all parts.

    This performance is very interesting, especially with the whole ensemble -for me is in this parts, in which the interpretation is really good-. The four Christmas Motets in this album are really amazing. Really, really Venetian!

No hay comentarios: