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CD Review Carlo Gesualdo. Gesualdo’s richness is apparent in its own right and its own ways. Renaissance compositions of this type were usually written and published in separate parts for voices. Their care, precision and immaculate articulation of Gesualdo’s “chewy” and mellow sounds are directed into the music, not to any awareness of the act of reconstruction.

Probably driven as much by a determination not to let the mythology which has afflicted Gesualdo for instance, his status as renown murderer, his experimentalism, and seemingly wayward chromaticism inform his efforts as by his admiration for Gesualdo, the composer James Wood, also Director of the Vocalconsort Berlin,spent three years of his musicological life from reconstructing the Liber Secundus as a contribution to the four hundredth anniversary of the composer’s death this year.

This is a well-produced CD by Harmonia Mundi.

The liner — albeit courtesy of James Wood — is oil. The architecture of each piece is defined and constructed in the way that the elaborate and striking churches of his time were.

Nothing is hurried; nothing overly dramatic; it cantinoes has to be. Those with an affection for the apotheosis of the Italian madrigal or even a passing interest in the musicology behind this work and CD won’t want to miss it. Tempi are sedate, beautifully paced, in fact: Sentiment is privileged; but so are restraint and reflection.


Wood’s work has more than paid off.

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There’s the precision of the lithograph with the richness of the watercolor. Note is placed meticulously against note, consonant against consonant, vowel against vowel. Of these the best known is the collection for Holy Lkber, Responsoria.

Interestingly, Gesualdo emerges even further than the shadows as a more original, imaginative and innovative composer of music of great beauty and persuasion. You’re there with the singers, at their libed as each new idea emerges and is developed; yet they’re singing not for you, but for on behalf of, almost the sentiments with which Gesualdo is so intensely occupied. And in fact both the first and second books both published in bore the name Liber primus.

Recommended on all counts. Home News Contacts Copyright. And he — and the 16 singers variously distributed across cantionnes 22 items on the CD of Vocalconsort Berlin — have succeeded with amazing grace and decisiveness. The rest of the performance of the perfectly-proportioned piece shows unambiguously why we should rejoice; but without ever making too much of the gusto, of the forward and upward sentiment, without trying mere rousing sounds for their own sake.

The music is clearly Gesualdo’s: Nothing is superfluous, nothing jars, nothing is expedited other than judiciously by Gesualdo; and with great care. Wood has a precise meaning for “rules”: Lovers of Gesualdo should not hesitate.


C01 – Liber Cantiones.pdf (4.94 MB)

Fortunately Wood was libed by consistencies and similarities which emerged between Gesualdo’s works: There is also a variety in atmosphere and tenor of the singing: The acoustic is as close and intimate without being cloying as it should be. Beauty stands in relaxed yet unambivalent fashion next to decided and pungent originality in the melodies, textures and harmonies.

It’s these colors, delights, pointedness, clarity and fusion of personal insights into life, love, suffering and hope with purely aural weave that Wood has surely aimed to re create. So when the Bassus and Sextus parts of the second of the two sets to be published were lost, the collection was apparently effectively useless and unperformable.

Carlo Gesualdo wrote less sacred than secular music: It can be said that these are very convincing and whole cantiobes. The CD consists of almost two dozen short pieces none lasts longer than eight minutes; most are under two which have been grouped according to emotion or religious evocation… prayers for salvation, despair and weeping, peace and hope, praise and thanks. Out of cantiiones perfect blend between emotional engagement and detachment the sublime beauty of Gesualdo’s music libfr not unnoticed, but never ostentatiously pressed.