20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Virgin are doing a really good job of making some wonderful recordings from the last 30 years or so available again, and often at a very good price. This set is a prime example - two discs of glorious music recorded in the early 90s which thoroughly deserve to be back in the catalogue. The first is music exclusively by Giovanni Gabrieli who did so much to make Venetian music great around the turn of the 17th century. The second also features some Gabrieli, but also fine works by some of his successors including Monteverdi, Lotti and Vivaldi.
The music is magnificent and recorded in the sort of rich, resonant acoustic for which it was written, so that the overall sound is truly fabulous. There is a nicely balanced programme with a good selection of choral and instrumental works form Gabrieli and the second disc contains lovely versions of two of Lotti's settings of the Crucifixus, some cracking motets from Monteverdi and a performance of Vivaldi's Clarae stellae, scintillae to rival the great Andreas Scholl's.
Parrott is a master of this repertoire. He uses quite large forces, as would have been used in San Marco at the time - and what forces they are! There is a phenomenal array of talent among the Taverner Consort and Players. Emily van Evera is invariably brilliant and many of the other singers are extremely fine and have sung regularly with ensembles like the Tallis Scholars, The Monteverdi Choir and The Sixteen. And as for the instrumentalists.... There are six violinsts, three of whom are John Holloway, Chiara Banchini and Elizabeth Wallfisch. The theorbo players are Jakob Linberg and Nigel North. And so on; it's an amazing line-up, and delivers the goods as one would expect.
I absolutely love these discs. Great music, superbly performed and at a ridiculously low price. Very warmly recommended.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 15 August 2008
This double CD charts the evolution of polychoral music that would have been performed in the churches of Venice during the late 16th, 17th and early 18th centuries. The first CD is dedicated to the music of Giovanni Gabrieli, a Venetian composer and leading practitioner of the polychoral style, who became an organist at the Basilica of San Marco in 1585 until his death in 1612. Some of his works, including Canzoni et Sonate and Reliquiae sacrorum, were published posthumously in 1615. More music by Gabrieli features on the second CD, together with works by his contemporaries, Monteverdi and Grandi, and also includes works by Castello, Legrenzi, Lotti and Vivaldi. The music is sensitively performed by the Taverner Consort, choir and players. This album represents excellent value and is to be recommended.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This is a 2 cd set of music of the Venetian masters – Giovanni Gabrieli, Claudio Monteverdi, Alessandro Grandi, Dario Castello, Giovanni Legrenzi and Antonio Lotti.
The first cd is music solely of Giovanni Gabrieli, who lived from 1554/7 to 1612. He became one of the two organists at the Basilica of San Marco in Venice in 1585, overlapping with his uncle Andrea Gabrieli, who died a few months later. Giovanni’s music written for San Marco utilises the vast spaces, and the choral echos which he mastered in both vocal and instrumental music, particularly in the large use of brass, with cornetts and trombones predominating.
The second cd offers music by Gabrieli and the other composers listed above. In 1612, Gabrieli’s death created an opening at San Marco. Conveniently, Monteverdi had just been dismissed by the new Duke in Mantua and came for an audition in August, the month Gabrieli died. Monteverdi’s music made use of the vast choral spaces as Gabrieli did, but his music was very different.
Two further directors of music at San Marco are also showcased on this cd – Legrenzi and Lotti.
Legrenzi (1626-1690) was a prominent late 17th century composer who worked only came to San Marco as maestro di capella in 1685. Lotti’s (c. 1667-1740) career was at San Marco, first as an alto singer (from 1689), and working up to maestro di cappella by 1736.
Alessandro Grandi (1586-1630) was a composer whose name may not be so well known today as Monteverdi, but who was in his time considered secondly only to Monteverdi as a great composer. He is likely to have studied under Gabrieli, and became involved with music at San Marco during Monteverdi’s time there, becoming his assistant. Little is known of Dario Castello’s (c. 1590 – c. 1658) life, though some of his music survives.
This is a superb 2-cd set. The music offered is varied and ranges from the grand to the more intimate, but never fails to be highly musical, utterly beautifully written and perfectly performed by the Taverner Consort, Choir and Players under Andrew Parrott, past masters at presenting Baroque performances. Fellow reviewer Sid Nuncius has written more about the performance, so there is little to add to his review.
This is utterly and wholeheartedly recommended for anybody who enjoys, or wants to try listening to, Venetian church music from the sixteenth to the seventeenth century. The music is sublime, the performances magical. There is not one false note here of any kind.