By combining the highly skilled Royal Academy of Music Brass and the Juilliard School Brass, trumpeter and director Reinhold Friedrich has created a virtuoso super group that is perfectly suited to the glorious antiphonal music of Giovanni Gabrieli. Not only is such a large contingent of exceptional brass players capable of producing the rich and resonant sound that is characteristic of Gabrieli's music, it also produces a credible impression of the performance space, which is usually quite difficult to convey on a standard recording. This album was made in St. Jude-on-the-Hill, Hampstead Garden Suburb, whose barrel-vaulted ceiling and brick-and-marble floor produce fantastic acoustics with a depth and breadth reminiscent of the spacious Byzantine interior of San Marco Cathedral, where Gabrieli served as maestro di cappella. In addition to the ensembles' lustrous sonorities are the brilliant execution and expressive warmth of the performances that make the sonatas and canzoni of Gabrieli and other short works by Pietro Lappi, Girolamo Frescobaldi, Tiburtio Massaino, Lodovico Viadana, Giovanni Battista Buonamente, and Cesario Gussago, so compelling and moving. Sample the famous Sonata pian e forte a 8, the earliest known composition to call for specific instrumentation and soft and loud dynamics. Linn Records' reproduction is quite clear and vibrant, and the stereo recording approaches audiophile quality. Highly recommended.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson