Hyperion Records

Canzon septimi toni a 12, C182
The 1615 collection of Gabrieli’s canzonas and sonatas would conclude with a revolutionary work, a sonata for three violins and organ in which the increasingly elaborate sonorities of the polychoral canzona are abandoned in favour of the simple, continuo-accompanied textures of Baroque chamber music. Yet the seeds of this development were already present in earlier works, and the present canzona is, despite the opulence of its scoring for three four-part choirs, in essence a work for three treble instruments, each with its own three-part accompaniment.

The three trebles (violins in our performance) exchange short melodic tags, all clichés of the canzona style. The harmony and rhythm are simple and the effect predominantly lyrical. Monotony, to which lesser composers succumbed all too easily in this kind of piece, is avoided by the unpredictability of the conversation; new ideas are instigated by all three choirs at different times, and are echoed sometimes once, sometimes twice.

The musical content is at times reminiscent of No 3, though here the vigour of the 7th mode is tempered by what Zarlino described as the ‘natural grace and sweetness’ of the 8th.

from notes by Timothy Roberts 1997

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