San Marco, with its imposing bell tower dominates the city’s profile as you approach Venice from the sea. Out of this majestic edifice has come some of the most beautiful and awe inspiring choral music ever written. The architecture of the building provides many galleries from which singers and instrumentalists can perform. San Marco’s composers developed a unique style of antiphonal music, where groups of musicians or singers would sing successive phrases from different galleries, coming together for climactic ‘surround sound’ finales. This is a rare case of the architecture of a single building influencing the development of a new musical style.
Douglas Lawrence, as well-known for his organ concerts as for his choral conducting, has played organ concerts in St Mark’s and conducted a choral concert in the piazza, with the Basilica as a magnificent backdrop. The Australian Chamber Choir will recreate some of the magic of St Mark’s, performing works by Monteverdi and Gabrieli for choirs of voices with instruments of that time.
The lowest instrument in the ensemble will be a great bass rackett: This is only 40cm long, but plays lower than a double bass or double bassoon. Simon Rickard plays the rackett and also plays curtals (renaissance bassoons) with Brock Imison. Matthew Manchester gives the ensemble a virtuoso soprano line, on cornetto. The cornetto, a hybrid brass/woodwind instrument is made from wood, covered in leather. It was the most important solo instrument of the 16th and 17th centuries.
The program runs the gamut of emotions, from the theatrical excitement of Schütz’s 16-voiced Saul, why do you persecute me to the ravishing intimacy and calm of Monteverdi’s Duo Seraphim for three male voices and harp. You might imagine that you are in heaven, but no, you are in Venice!
- Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1633) – Domine ad adiuvandum from the Vespers of 1610
- Heinrich Schütz (1585-1672) – Ist nicht Ephraim mein teurer Sohn (Jeremiah 31:20, SWV 40)
- Monteverdi – Cantate Domino, O Jesu mea vita, Duo Seraphim
- Giovanni Gabrieli (1554/57-1612) Canzona Pian e Forte
- Giovanni Antonio Rigatti (c.1613-48) Magnificat
- Giovanni Gabrieli – Omnes Gentes
- Andrea Gabrieli (1533-85) - Kyrie a 5, Christe à 8, Kyrie à 12, Gloria à 16
- Giovanni Gabrieli Jubilate Deo, Canzona à 15
- Heinrich Schütz – Saul, was verfolgst du mich? (SWV 415)
- Andrea Gabrieli – Sanctus à 12
- Giovanni Gabrieli – In Ecclesiis