San Marco!

Featuring: Soprano, Tenor, Violin, Zink, 2 Trombones, Dulcian, Viola da Gamba, Violone, Theorbo, Organ

Venice was among the most important musical capitals of the seventeenth century.
Its particular geopolitical position, the exchanges with various European and Mediterranean cultures, transformed the Chapel of San Marco into a universally recognized landmark for a long period of time, which undoubtedly contributed into making the Serenissima one of the world music capitals. Illustrious masters such as Andrea and Giovanni Gabrieli, Alessandro Grandi, Giovanni Picchi, Giovanni Croce and many others were employed at the Basilica of San Marco as organists, cantors, choir conductors or musicians, giving to this particular place a very specific variety of taste and excellence throughout the century. The Seicento was indeed a very intense period in the history of music, considering the renewal of the pratiche musicali, the ways of playing and composing, that led this Era to a new modern and innovative concept of music making.We owe to the Venetian School surely more than one important musical innovation.Among the most remarkable we find certainly the developing of polychorality which brought to the famous cori spezzati, “broken choirs” , accompanied and supported by the basso continuo, then basso per l’organo, which we find in the compositions of Bassano, Gabrieli, and Croce in this program . Basically these compositions were thought for singing voices accompanied by the organ, but it was common practice to support and enrich the vocal counterpoint with wind or string instruments, and sometimes even to replace the voices with such instruments. The voice- instrument interaction in the seventeenth century was a kind of coexistence, in which the instruments were no longer subordinate to the singing voices as in the previous century. Instruments could replace the voices and even had a repertoire of their own, which developed in parallel to the vocal repertoire. The style of instrumental music in the Seicento is peculiar. There is at this point a true revolution of the instrument’s role: instruments stop just doubling or supporting the singing voices, and start instead to have a function of their own, a defined own identity well shown in this program by the Canzonas of Picchi, Gabrieli and Guami. In this Canzonas we find elements such as imitation between the voices, echo effects and repetitive percussive themes typical of the instrumental style. The virtuoso qualities of the instruments are truly explored. A fine example is the Canzona of Picchi where the upper and lower voices alternate in solos, and then rejoin in the end – almost like in a memory of the “old-style ” vocal polyphony – taking up the isorhythmic theme of the beginning and concluding in a majestic tutti. Another important aspect of the Venetian school was the ability to influence the style of music, even outside the Italian borders. Heinrich Schütz, illustrious German composer that worked in Dresden at the court of George I of Saxony, traveled several times to Venice and was a pupil of Giovanni Gabrieli and most likely also of Claudio Monteverdi. Like him many other famous Flemish and German composers spread the Venetian style in northern countries after having studied there for a while. Interesting to notice is also how the music of this program was not only written by Venetians or Venice-inspired composers, but it was also edited in Venice. In fact since the famous printer Ottaviano Petrucci installed his workshop there already in 1500, Venice developed a wide music-printing and editing tradition that contributed to spread this beautiful repertoire all around Europe, and to deliver it in such good conditions throughout the centuries directly into our hands.

Giovanni Gabrieli               Canzona III a 6 / O magnum mysterium

Heinrich Schütz                  Cantabo Domino

Giovanni Picchi                  Canzon XIII

Giovanni Bassano              Hodie Christus natus est

Heinrich Schütz                 Hodie Christus natus est

Giovanni Gabrieli              Canzona I a 5

Giovanni Croce                  Omnes gentes

Heinrich Schütz                 Oh Jesu Nomen dulce

Gioseffo Guami                  Canzona a 4

Giovanni Croce                  Egredimini et videte

Giovanni Picchi                 Canzona XIV

Alessandro Grandi            Nativitas tua

Photo@Susanna Drescher