Having received his first exposure to music through his uncle Andrea Gabrieli, Giovanni Gabrieli grew up in the creative atmosphere of Venice’s San Maurizio district and within the walls of St Mark’s Basilica, where he would become organist in January 1585. In the years in which Giovanni was active, the churches of Venice bore witness to the emancipation of instrumental music from vocal music. At St Mark’s, music for the organ appeared alongside liturgical choral music, independent from the latter and comprising motets and instrumental pieces. Indeed, in Gabrieli’s Venice a distinction was being made between virtuoso organ soloists and choral accompanists.
His works for keyboard, whilst relatively scarce in his catalogue, embrace all of the main genres in fashion between the late 16th and early 18th centuries. This recording presents the entire body of work, and was put together predominantly on the basis of the manuscripts held by the Foà and Giordano collections in Turin. Following the removal of numerous works and the discovery of new manuscripts, the recent Charteris (C.) catalogue comprises four toccate, 16 ricercari and six canzoni da sonar. These are joined by the 11 Intonationi d’organo designed originally as introductions to vocal works or other instrumental compositions.
Performing these works is noted musician Roberto Loreggian, who released the 6-CD set of the Complete Keyboard Music of Giovanni Gabrieli’s uncle, Andrea, on Brilliant Classics in 2015 to great critical acclaim (BC94432). He has collaborated on several other recordings for Brilliant Classics including the C.P.E. Bach Edition (BC94960) alongside Federico Guglielmo, praised by Gramophone for its ‘fine style and spirit’, and the Frescobaldi Complete Edition (BC94111), which earned him the 2009 ‘National Classical Music Track Award’.
To faithfully recreate the early-17th-century sounds Gabrieli himself would have heard, Roberto Loreggian returns to the historic 1532 Vincenzo Colombi organ at the Valvasone cathedral in northeast Italy, the same instrument he used for his Andrea Gabrieli set and the only 16th-century Venetian organ still in existence. The harpsichord on the recording also dates from the 17th century.
Giovanni Gabrieli (1554/56-1612) was born in Venice into a musical family, his famous uncle Andrea was organist of the San Marco. After serving Duke Albrecht V in Munich Giovanni Gabrieli returned to Venice, where he eventually succeeded his uncle as organist of the San Marco.
Gabrieli was one of the most influential composers of his time, the transition from renaissance to Baroque. In his vocal works he invented the polychoral singing, featuring multiple choirs and instrumental ensembles.
This new recording contains his complete output for the keyboard, organ and harpsichord. His Canzones, Ricercares and Fantasias are highly innovative, virtuoso works in which in some of them he introduced for the first time dynamic markings.
Roberto Loreggian is one of the foremost keyboardists of Italy. In this recording he plays on a historic organ in Valvasone, built around 1533 by Vincenzo Colombi, the specifications of which are included in the booklet, which also contains an essay on Gabrieli by a noted musicologist.