News and Reviews

Amadio Freddi: Vespers (1616)


The first review of Freddi’s Vespers appeared in the Observer a week before the official release date in August 2019. Fiona Maddocks wrote: “Little is known about the Italian composer Amadio Freddi (c1580-1634). The Gonzaga Band’s recording of his Vespers (1616) (Resonus), together with detailed liner notes by the ensemble’s director and cornett player, Jamie Savan, may be the most extensive material yet available… This kind of loving scholarship, combined with excellent performance by the Gonzaga Band’s six singers and three instrumentalists, contributes to our ever-growing picture of music in the late Renaissance and early baroque.” Full review here:

Andrew McGregor, BBC Radio 3 Record Review (September 2019): Amadio Freddi, “A candidate for best Italian contemporary of Monteverdi you’ve never heard of”!

4 stars, Curtis Rogers, Classical Source (September 2019): “an important addition to the catalogue of Baroque choral music”. Full review here:

David Vickers, Gramophone (Awards Issue, October 2019): “The Gonzaga Band’s classy musicianship and intrepid curiosity reaffirm that there are riches to be found among Monteverdi’s overlooked contemporaries.” Full review here:

David Stancliffe, Early Music Review (November 2019): “This recording is another triumph for Jamie Savan and his Gonzaga Band … a model of how scholarship and performance should complement one another”. Full review here:

4 stars performance / 5 stars recording, Kate Bolton-Porciatti, BBC Music Mazagine (December 2019): “Compared with Monteverdi’s lavish 1610 Vespers, Freddi’s resources are modest (solo voices, cornett, violin and organ), yet the music is remarkably varied – here rapt and contemplative, there extravagantly virtuosic. The six soloists are fresh voiced and finely balanced … the instruments play with pliant virtuosity … they paint a canvas as lustrous as a Venetian painting.” Full review here:

The Musician (Journal of the Musician’s Union), Winter 2019: “Jamie Savan and his ensemble Gonzaga Band have produced a revelatory account of Amadio Freddi’s Vespers, showcasing some truly imaginative vocal and instrumental writing that was clearly ahead of its time.”

4 stars, Rebecca Tavener, Choir & Organ (January 2020): “This premiere recording … a lovingly, carefully constructed Vespers sequence with impeccable scholarship … will enchant and intrigue. Fresh, spritely, amiable singing, carefully balanced with cornett, violin and organ, all gilded with fluent, effortless abbellimenti, free from ostentation, conjures fine chamber-sized performances, captured in clear, cool acoustics.”


Venice 1629

Since its release on 29 June 2018, Venice 1629 has received some excellent reviews, a selection of which can be found below:

Venice 1629 album cover

Recording of the Month [and selected as one of the top recordings of 2018] for Johan van Veen at MusicWeb International (August 2018): “Faye Newton does a brilliant job here. Her performances are among the best I have heard in this kind of music… The individual efforts of the players of cornett and violin are outstanding, but the ensemble is also first class.” Full review here:

20/20 and 5 stars+ for David Stancliffe at Early Music Review: “Top of the range in every respect”. Full review here:

Andrew Benson Wilson writes: “This is an outstanding recording of a glorious repertoire, with superb performances from Faye Newton and the Gonzaga Band.” Full review here:

Andrew McGregor, BBC Radio 3 Record Review: “If this really was the sound of music in Venice in 1629 it must have been a magical time for music!”

5 stars in the Telegraph:

Telegraph review Venice 1629

4 stars for BBC Music Magazine (October 2018): “A crisp and vivid evocation of the milieu of Venice, 1629. That was the year Heinrich Schütz went to Venice and encountered the music of Monteverdi and his acolytes. The playing is faultlessly stylish.”

David Vickers writes in Gramophone (March 2019): “The Gonzaga Band explore a range of music all published in Venice in 1629 – a landmark year because Schütz returned to La Serenissima nearly two decades after his studies with Gabrieli. The visitor soaked up new styles practiced by Monteverdi and other musicians associated with Venice. Two solo motets from Schütz’s Symphoniae sacrae(printed nine months after his arrival) and Monteverdi’s Exulta, filia Sionare sung by Faye Newton with sparkling clarity of tone, eloquent diction and relaxed embellishments of rare intelligence. Sonatas by Castello and Marini are likely to be the only other music here familiar to even ardent enthusiasts of early 17th-century Italian music; nearly half of the vocal and instrumental pieces by assorted composers have never been recorded before. Violinists Oliver Webber and Theresa Caudle, cornettists Jamie Savan and Helen Roberts and keyboardist Steven Devine play with abundant fluency, shapely virtuosity and brilliant sonorities.”


And some reviews from the international press:

Karen Cooke in Early Music America (October 2018): “Soprano Faye Newton’s flexible, clear tone aptly showcases the music’s contrasts between the faster recitative-like passages and longer, more virtuosic melodies. Following in Monteverdi’s footsteps, Schütz wrote the two motets featured here for solo voice, organ, and two violins, which are replaced by cornetti. A fitting choice, since late 16th-century Venice was the height of the cornetto’s popularity, in large part due to its ability to mimic the human voice. No need here for the cornetti to devolve into overly flashy feats of virtuosity: their rock-solid intonation and sensitive, stylistically appropriate ornamentation are delights unto themselves, as are their blend with Newton, especially in works such as Ignazio Donati’s Maria virgo or Benedetto Rè’s Lilium convallium … Overall, it is a fine recording that adds as much to our historical knowledge as it does to our musical enjoyment.” Full review here:

Catherine Moore in the American Record Guide (November 2018): “From the vibrant energy in Marini’s Capriccio for two violins to the attractive cornetto dialog in Castello’s Echo Sonata, the Gonzaga Band plays with variety and flair … Singers probably don’t like to be described as “breathless” but in the case of soprano Faye Newton’s performance of Monteverdi’s ‘Exulta, Filia Sion’, it’s meant as a compliment. In the closing Alleluia movement Newton’s florid, exuberant, excited joy can’t be contained. Overflowing with joy, breathlessness makes the intense ecstasy palpable.”

James Miller for the Historic Brass Society (New York, October 2018): “The performances are uniformly excellent. Faye Newton sings with a light, warmly expressive voice and delivers technical passages with the grace and elegance of a ballerina … Venice 1629 is a delight on numerous levels. The performances are an excellent balance of graceful phrasing and virtuosity … The recording represents a great deal of research, diligence, and creativity and deserves great attention for all performers or students of seventeenth century music.” Full review here:


“Subliem!” – Stretto (Belgium):

And from the Nederlands Dagblad:

klassiek •Roel Sikkema

Een cd met een vreemde naam: een plaats en een jaartal. 1629 slaat op het jaar waarin de bekende Duitse componist Heinrich Schütz een bezoek aan Venetië bracht. Hij was er eerder geweest, had er van 1609 tot 1612 allerlei muzikale indrukken opgedaan die hij in zijn muziek verwerkte. Het Britse ensemble The Gonzaga Band kwam op het idee om een cd te maken met muziek die precies in 1629 in Venetië en omstreken is gepubliceerd. Dat levert een mooie staalkaart aan Italiaanse muziek op. Van bekende componisten als Monteverdi en Schütz zelf, maar voor het grootste deel van ‘B-componisten’. Met onbekende namen als Calvi, Costello en Marini. Onbekend maakt onbemind, dat blijkt ook uit deze cd. Het grootste deel van deze werken is nog niet eerder op cd gezet. De cd werd mooi ruimtelijk opgenomen in een Engelse kerk. Omdat daar geen Italiaans orgel aanwezig is, werd – opmerkelijk – gebruikgemaakt van een digitaal orgel. Dat werd gevoed met samples van een Italiaans orgel dat via het zogenaamde Hauptwerk-programma kon worden bespeeld.

+ fraaie muziek, onbekend maakt onbemind

+ mooi gezongen en gespeeld, goed opgenomen