Canzon duodecimi toni a 10, C177

composer
1597; No 8 of Sacrae Symphoniae

 
Less brilliant than some of the other 12th-mode canzonas, this masterly work (like No 7, composed for an undivided ten-part ensemble) is based on an accumulation of ideas that overlap seamlessly like the lines of a polyphonic motet or an idealized organ ricercar (did the ten instruments perhaps symbolize the organist’s ten digits?). After the rising fifths of the opening, all the parts move almost entirely by step, creating a lilting regularity in the harmony, with very few perfect cadences; the two bass instruments move as mellifluously as the others.

This evident simplicity is deceptive; there is some skilful counterpoint, especially towards the end where the instruments pair off and follow each other up and down the scale in delightful, close canon.

from notes by Timothy Roberts 1997

Recordings

Gabrieli: Sacrae Symphoniae
CDA66908

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