One of the most important composers of the 16th century, Andrea Gabrieli wrote hundreds of works in his lifetime, many of which are now sadly lost. As for the few surviving ones, here the listener is treated to some remarkable creativity and experimentation: free-flowing toccatas, ricercars, variations and verses for mass constitute the bulk of his oeuvre. Although many of Gabrieli’s extant works are vocal pieces, there are around 60 keyboard compositions in existence, works that reveal his astonishing creativity. The toccatas start with a typical free section in the imitative style, followed by rapid figures designed to showcase the virtuosity of the performer. Indeed, it was even remarked that performers were justified in hitting wrong notes, as long as they fully upheld the practice of diminution, fast passages of improvised counterpoint. Gabrieli’s ricercars are more structured, with a marked focus on double counterpoint and contrary motion. Though in some ways they resemble the vocal motet, with the use of several voices, the keyboard allows for the music to stretch far beyond the bounds of voice limitations. In fact, the ricercars probably served a liturgical purpose, with Gabrieli in all likelihood composing for the organ. He also composed organ versetti – or versets – for church services, giving us a valuable insight into the prescribed order of the time, as well as providing notated versions of music that was frequently improvised.
Performing these works is noted musician Roberto Loreggian, who has already made several CDs for Brilliant Classics; his recording as part of the C.P.E. Bach Edition (BC94960), alongside Federico Guglielmo, was praised by Gramophone for its ‘fine style and spirit’.
The first complete recording of the keyboard works of Gabrieli (1532-1585), one of the most famous and influential composers of the late Renaissance and the most important representative of the Venetian School. A native of Venice he went to Germany to study with Lassus. Later he became organist of the famous San Marco in Venice, the most important post in Northern Italy at that moment.
Gabrieli was one of the first composers to write purely instrumental music. His works for keyboard (organ, cembalo) consist of Ricercars, a monothematic form which is the forerunner of the Fugue, brilliant and virtuoso Preludes and Toccatas, and lavishly ornamented arrangements of madrigals and other vocal works.
Italian Roberto Loreggian is one of the foremost keyboardists of this time. His extensive discography includes the complete keyboard works of Frescobaldi. He plays the wonderful, recently restored historic organ of the Duomo of Valvasone.
Booklet contains excellent liner notes and information on the instruments used.