The Stir of Echo
Two wonderful Echo reviews!
Here’s what Roger Kaza, Principal Horn of the Saint Louis Symphony has to say-
Just wanted to tell you how much I’m into your latest Gabrieli CD. I think I’ve been waiting my whole life to hear Gabrieli played that way…with transparency, an unaffected line, perfect balance between the horizontal and vertical elements of the music. It’s worlds apart from the symphonic, overblown, bottom-heavy, sempre marcato Gabrieli we all grew up on. I love the choices of instruments…the conical-bore fluegelhorns pull the sound together into this wonderful homogeneous texture.
Stylistically, you guys met the period performance folks halfway, which is IMHO exactly the right distance! You captured the spirit of sackbutts and cornettos without any of the accompanying intonation and sonic compromises that usually go with those instruments. It’s expressive playing that doesn’t call attention to the fact that it is….. an ideal.
Plus I love all the new arrangements…it’s so great to hear the Gabrieli “hit parade” (there is a reason those particular Canzoni are the most popular) in all new arrangements. I could pick out many cool things that struck my ear, such as the delicious octave doublings in Canzone per sonare # 2, or using the organ as an antiphonal choir, but suffice to say, for those of us who think Gabrieli is synonymous with Robert King, it was great to hear all the new colors.
The Orfeo suite is a perfect contrasting set….wow, what haunting music, nicely set.
Oh yeah, and the acoustics of that church were like, well, perfectly suited. As well as the way it was recorded!
The Venetian master has finally had his day in court. Actually make that on the court…a slam-dunk.
I told Jeff I’m giving away your CD to my best friends this Christmas (the ones who appreciate the finest things). Way to go.
All the best,
St. Louis Symphony
Review from Audiophile Audition:
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.
- John Sunier