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Gabrieli / National Brass Ensemble

Gabrieli / National Brass Ensemble / Bilger Release Date: 10/09/2015
Label: Oberlin Music Catalog #: 1504 Spars Code: DDD
Composer:  Giovanni Gabrieli ,  John T. Williams Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Brass Ensemble Number of Discs: 1

This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.

Back in the 1960s, Columbia Records made what for many remains the ultimate brass disc, works of Gabrieli using the combined sections of the Cleveland, Chicago, and Philadelphia orchestras. This production aims to surpass that one, and while comparisons really are invidious, let’s just say that it rises to the same exalted level. The National Brass Ensemble consists of principal players from the three original orchestras just cited, plus members of the symphony orchestras of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Detroit, and Boston–twenty-four players in all. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Read more San Francisco principal trombone Tim Higgens has made splendid arrangements of sixteen glorious works by Giovanni Gabrieli (from Sacrae Symphoniae), including nine “Canzoni,” the famous Sonata Pian e Forte, and several transcriptions of sacred works. The Canzoni offer plenty of opportunities for extravert brilliance–listen to the trumpet filigree in the Canzon per Sonar Duodecimi Toni–while the liturgical pieces permit the players to show off their gorgeous legato and seamless ensemble blend. O Magnum Mysterium, Sancta Maria, and Exaudi me Domine offer special pleasure: smooth as silk and warmly opulent.

As a bonus, two Cleveland percussionists join the group for John Williams’ specially composed Music for Brass, a four-minute jeu d’esprit that makes an excellent encore. The entire program is recorded in stellar SACD sound. Oberlin Music, the house label of the eponymous conservatory, has done excellent work to date, but this release is truly special by any standard.

-- David Hurwitz,
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