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Canzone e Sonate No.19 (1615) By Giovanni Gabrieli


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Gabrieli’s Canzone e Sonate No.19 (1615) is written for 3 Trumpets and 12 Trombones or 3 Trumpets, 3 Horns, and 9 Trombones arranged into 3 choirs. This edition includes alternative parts so you can use either instrumentation.

This piece exemplifies the significance of spatial arrangement in enhancing its polychoral effect, necessitating a clear separation of the choirs to fully realize its potential. The three choirs are meticulously balanced both in terms of vocal ranges and utilization of shared material, contributing to a sense of equilibrium throughout the composition. While it may be considered one of the more conventional works in the 1615 collection, as it employs common antiphonal techniques prevalent in Venetian music, Gabrieli’s judicious application ensures their effectiveness without undue repetition.

An illustrative instance occurs around bar 83 and onwards, just preceding the final tutti, where short phrases reverberate in echo among the three choirs. Here, Gabrieli adeptly manipulates the timing of the echoes, gradually diminishing the interval between them to infuse dynamism into the concluding cadence. Throughout the work, swift exchanges between choirs often involve some form of transposition, typically by a fourth or fifth, facilitating a progressive buildup towards the cadential resolution through the circle of fifths.

It’s notable that many developmental ideas, including sequences, stem from motifs introduced at the outset of the piece. Lacking a distinct ritornello, the composition adopts a less formal structural approach compared to others in the collection.

Nevertheless, recurrent themes serve as cohesive elements, lending unity to the overall composition. Regarding instrumentation, the original manuscript provides no specifications. However, in this edition, the brass parts have been transposed down a tone to ensure compatibility with modern performance practices.

Take a look at some sample pages to the left and then click above for an immediate PDF download.

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