by Daniel Hathaway
Turning away at the beginning of the 17th century from the Flemish polyphonic tradition — which had long reigned in the private chapel of the Doges in Venice — San Marco organist Giovanni Gabrieli took advantage of the church’s multiple choir lofts to invent a new polychoral style that allowed for complex spatial effects, including echoes.
Probably more than a few audience members attending Apollo’s Fire’s “Echoes of Venice” performances this week were first introduced to Gabrieli’s opulent music through a famous old recording by organist E. Power Biggs, the Gregg Smith Singers, the Texas Boys Choir, and the Edward Tarr Brass Ensemble — who performed on modern trumpets and trombones.
In four concerts this week, Apollo’s Fire and Apollo’s Singers will join the Dark Horse Consort, a Boston-based ensemble comprising period strings, cornetti, and sackbuts, to recreate the sounds that might actually have bounced back and forth under the seven domes of St. Mark’s in 1615. That was the year Gabrieli published his 14-part motet for three choirs, In Ecclesiis. [Read more…]