Giovanni Gabrieli: Canzoni & Sonate

Album cover art
Label: SONY
Catalog: MHK062353
Format: CD

Power-Biggs, Boston Brass Ensemble, Philadelphia Brass Ensemble, Chicago Brass Ensemble

Venice was a good place to be in the 17th century if you liked to hang out in church--not that you had much choice in those days. Gabrieli's reputation rests on his "polychoral" compositions: works for several choirs, a choir being any size group of voices or instruments. For example, a sacred composition for three choirs might have two brass groups and one chorus, or two choruses and one brass ensemble. The idea was to keep things flexible to allow for changing local conditions. The result, in any case, was a magnificent "question and answer" style of writing, in which great blocks of harmony challenged each other from opposite sides of San Marco Cathedral. If this sort of thing intrigues you, then you owe it to yourself to hear this terrific collection. It's a cosmic experience. --David Hurwitz

Price: $19.98