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Canzone e Sonate No.4 (1615) By Giovanni Gabrieli


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Gabrieli’s Canzone e Sonate No.4 (1615) is written for 4 Trumpets and 2 Trombones.

In terms of structure, this piece emerges as the most straightforward within the collection. It exemplifies the ritornello principle, extensively discussed in the General Introduction, taken to its utmost expression. The composition adheres to a simple alternation between two themes: a duple-time motif designated for “solo” instruments, typically performed by two or three musicians, and a triple-time motif reserved for the “tutti” section, orchestrated in a basic four-part texture rather than the usual six-part configuration. Notably, the first theme follows a sequential pattern, as outlined in the General Introduction, bearing striking resemblance to that of Canzon II, albeit with subtle decorative variations.

An intriguing aspect of this work lies in its incorporation of short, relatively free passages introduced after each ritornello, preceding the return of the initial theme. This structural choice adds a layer of dynamic variation and thematic development, enhancing the overall coherence and interest of the composition.

For this rendition, the brass parts have been transposed down by a tone, while minor errors have been rectified. The original instrumentation includes Violino for the top two parts, cornetto for the third part, and trombon for the two lower parts. It appears evident that a second cornetto was originally intended for the fourth part, as it forms a natural pairing with the third part, contributing to the balanced ensemble envisioned by the composer.

In essence, while this piece may lack the intricate complexity found in other compositions within the collection, its adherence to the ritornello principle, coupled with the interplay of thematic motifs and instrumentation choices, underscores Gabrieli’s mastery in crafting compositions that are both structurally coherent and musically engaging.

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

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