Andrea Gabrieli: Motets & Organ Works

Weser-Renaissance, Manfred Cordes
cpo 555 291-2

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Like Bach’s sons, Mendelssohn’s sister and Schumann’s wife (among many others), Andrea Gabrieli is one of those unfortunates whose relative has somehow eclipsed their own valuable output. I remember in my first year at university how much I enjoyed playing through volumes of Andrea Gabrieli’s keyboard music as I “taught myself the piano” (anyone who has heard me play know that it’s very much still work in progress…) At the Early Music Society, we played canzonas by Giovanni Gabrieli and it was only much later in life (at the Gloucester courses run by Alan Lumsden and Philip Thorby) that I really came to appreciate just how good a composer Andrea Gabrieli was.

This new recording on cpo confirms everything I ever thought. Veronika Greuel’s incisivce and extensive booklet note contextualises the music, which the one-to-a-part ensemble, mixing voices with a variety of the instruments one would expect (violin, cornetto, three trombones, dulcian, chitarrone and organ), then perform in a suitably “big” acoustic with lots of air around the notes. There are four organ works by the composer, and a fifth an entabulation by the performer (Edoardo Bellotti on a modified reconstruction of a late 17th-century instrument), neatly played and revealing the breadth of the composer’s mastery of styles. All in all, I cannot imagine a better way to advocate for Andrea’s rightful place in the Early Music Hall of Fame.

Brian Clark

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