Canzona XIII, also known as Canzon Septimi Octavi Toni a 12, was first published in 1597 as part of a collection entitled ‘Symphoniae Sacrae’ – this collection was a mixture of instrumental and choral pieces, and also included the famous Sonata Pian’e Forte, probably his best known work.
Gabrieli was born in Venice sometime between 1554 and 1557 and studied with the renowned Dutch composer Orlando di Lassus. He also studied with his uncle, Andrea Gabrieli, and eventually succeeded him as the organist and composer at St Mark’s Basilica in Venice. Already renowned as a musical centre, Venice became a magnet for composers wishing to study with Gabrieli after ‘Symphoniae Sacrae’ was published.
Like many of his works, this Canzona was written to take advantage of the unique layout of St Mark’s, which had galleries on three sides where the musicians could be placed to create novel spatial effects – utterly new and exciting for sixteenth century listeners. Canzona XIII has three different antiphonal ‘choirs’ and in this arrangement the band is split into three groups to reflect Gabrieli’s innovative idea. Ideally the three groups should be clearly separated so the the antiphonal effect comes across clearly, although this will of course depend on the performance space. On no account should the band remain in its normal seated formation!
As Gabrieli didn’t have any percussionists (and percussion was widely thought inappropriate for music performed in church anyway) there are no percussion parts in this music.
This arrangement was first performed by the Coppull and Standish Band conducted by Andrew Baker in 2009.
You can follow a preview of the score while listening to an audio export of the music below!