ECHO; GLORY OF GABRIELI CD
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Echo - Glory of Gabrieli displays the Brass's more serious side with an album exploring the Baroque innovations pioneered by Gabrieli at Venice's Basilica San Marco. Because of the Basilica's unique design, which included two choir lofts separated by a cavernous interior, it was difficult for choirs to sing in unison. Gabrieli used this to his advantage in his music for brass, creating works where one brass choir echoes or responds to the other -- a technique that proved immensely popular in his time and is recreated in our own by Canadian Brass.
In the words of Canadian Brass founding member Chuck Daellenbach, “Most Gabrieli-era recordings are blast fests -- fun to be part of, but not that wonderful to listen to, and certainly not authentic. When we started this project, I urged all participants, starting with the adapters/arrangers, to exercise intelligent authenticity. Simply stated, I wanted a result that took advantage of modern instruments without sacrificing the musical intent of the composers. Consequently, we observed as best we could the scholarship that abounds regarding this period, and combined it with advances in instrument quality, performer standards, and of course, state-of-the-art recording techniques.”
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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.
The music of Gabrieli is probably the first music every written specifically for brass instruments. The world famous Canadian Brass get back to their "roots" with this wonderful and absorbing album of brass playing at its best with their new CD Echo – Glory of Gabrieli. Hailed as “the world’s leading brass ensemble”, the ensemble brings its trademark virtuosity and artistic passion to the antiphonal music of Giovanni Gabrieli, Claudio Monteverdi and Samuel Scheidt, composers of the late Renaissance and early Baroque. With Echo, the impassioned Canadian Brass makes these works sound as fresh and entertaining as when they were first created hundreds of years ago.
“Most Gabrieli-era recordings are blast fests” commented Canadian Brass founding member Chuck Daellenbach on the making of Echo. “Fun to be part of, but not that wonderful to listen to, and certainly not authentic. When we started this project, I urged all participants, starting with the adapters/arrangers, to exercise intelligent authenticity. Simply stated, I wanted a result that took advantage of modern instruments without sacrificing the musical intent of the composers. Consequently, we observed as best we could, the scholarship that abounds regarding this period, and combined it with the advances in instrument quality, performer standards and of course state-of-the-art recording techniques.” The album features music for not only quintet but also brass octet and brass with organ. The Canadian Brass is fortunate to have access to a large pool of world-class performers and with Echo, which needed more than just the normal five core members of the Brass, they added several players (known as Echo Brass) that are members of the Canadian Brass family. Manon LeFrance and Joe Burgstaller, part of the trumpet “dream team” often performing with Canadian Brass on stage, are joined by Austin Hitchcock (horn) as well as organist and arranger Eric Robertson. Beside the familiar, rich and resonant Gabrieli and Scheidt works, Canadian Brass member Brandon Ridenour has created an expert arrangement of Monteverdi’s music with his Suite from L’Orfeo – an early opera and one that actually employed brass instrumentation when it was first produced in the first decade of the 17th century. Echo is an impressive salute to endearing works that have been part of every brass player’s repertoire for generations.