"Authentic" recordings of early organ music are rare, for the comparatively small organs of the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries were in most cases replaced by the more splendid efforts of the builders of the High Baroque. This little disc, originally released in 1990 and reissued by the omnivorous Dutch budget label Brilliant, is the exception. The organs that Andrea and Giovanni Gabrieli would have played at the cathedral of San Marco in Venice (the much-photographed building front on Venice's pigeon-crowded main piazza) no longer exist. But a similar pair has been preserved at the Basilica di San Petronio in Bologna, and it is these that are used here by organists Luigi Ferdinando Tagliavini and Liuwe Tamminga. The effect is really delightful, and for many average listeners who enjoy organ music it will stir a desire to hear more organ music of the early Baroque played this way. The pieces are for one or two organs, and they cover the typical genres of the Gabrieli father and son: the free intonazione and toccata, the more contrapuntal ricercar and fuga, and various pieces modeled on or directly adapted from vocal models, either motets or canzonas, which were the Italian equivalent of French chansons. Works were classified by mode or "tono," the Toccata del Secondo Tono (track 8) of Giovanni Gabrieli, for example, was a toccata in mode two. The works by Andrea Gabrieli reflect something of the dual origins of organ music in improvisation and in the adaptation of vocal models. The real stars of the show are the Bologna organs, which are much quieter than a typical High Baroque organ, yet bright, lively, and almost catchy. The music seems written to take advantage of the resonance of the musical space they create, and the shimmering persistence of overtones at the end of each piece seems uncanny after you hear it a few times. This disc would make a good purchase, or gift, for anyone who likes organ music of any kind.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Canzoni et Sonate|