Music by Andrea Gabrieli -
'... His Majestys Sagbutts and Cornetts play stunningly ...'
Andrea Gabrieli has had rather a poor press, seen simply as a stepping stone to his showier
nephew Giovanni. On this disc His Majestys Sagbutts and Cornetts and their consort of voices,
directed by Timothy Roberts, are setting the record straight. The centrepiece of the disc is
Andrea Gabrieli's six part mass Missa Pater peccavi, performed interspersed with motets,
instrumental ricercars and an organ intonation; giving a wonderful idea of the richness of the
services in Venice whilst Gabrieli was working there.
Sixteenth century Venetian choirs were radically different to ours. Whilst much of this music
could be performed unaccompanied by a modern chamber choir we now realise that to the Gabrelis
(uncle and nephew) a choir constituted a mixed band of instrumentalists and singers. Composers
seem to have been indifferent to the exact make-up of the forces. Most of the vocal works on
this disc were printed with text assigned to all the different instrumental/vocal lines. And
the ricercars, though performed instrumentally here, were actually printed at the end of a
volume of madrigals. This indifference to the exact make-up of the forces is rather modern,
reminding me of such twentieth century experiments as Percy Grainger's elastic scoring.
Copyright © 23 December 2003
Robert Hugill, London UK