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Carlo Gesualdo
Quinto Libro di Madrigali

The Hilliard Ensemble
Monika Mauch soprano
David James countertenor
David Gould countertenor
Rogers Covey-Crump tenor
Steven Harrold tenor
Gordon Jones baritone
 
Gioite voi col canto
S’io non miro non moro
Itene, o miei sospiri
Dolcissima mia vita
O dolorosa gioia
Qual fora, donna
Felicissimo sonno
Se vi duol il mio duolo
Occhi del mio cor vita
Languisce al fin
Mercè grido piangendo
O voi, troppo felici
Correte, amanti, a prova
Asciugate i begli occhi
Tu m’uccidi, o crudele
Deh, coprite il bel seno
Poichè l’avida sete (Prima parte)
Ma tu, cagion (Seconda parte)
O tenebroso giorno
Se tu fuggi, io non resto
T’amo, mia vita


Recorded November 2009

ECM New Series 2175
 
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An aristocrat who forged an idiosyncratic style of musical expression, Don Carlo Gesualdo, Prince of Venosa, was one of those composers in music history who can truly be described as being ahead of his time: the creator of a harmonic language bold almost to the point of anarchy, whose every unpredictable interval was viewed with suspicion by the opponents of musical autonomy and guardians of liturgically based sacred music. A friend of Torquato Tasso and founder of his own academy, to which many leading madrigalists of the 16th and early 17th centuries belonged, Gesualdo was a highly expressive composer and a virtuoso performer on the bass lute. Yet his chromatic progressions baffled his contemporaries and had to wait until the 19th-century era of High Romantic period to find artistic parallels. Among his most important compositions are six books of five-part madrigals dating from between 1594 and 1611. The last two books in particular – this recording by the Hilliard Ensemble brings new performances of Book 5 – display his dissonant musical language with its extreme harmonic disruptions, striking tempo contrasts and a distinctly modern feel for drama. The Hilliard Ensemble’s expressive singing, here also featuring soprano Monika Mauch and countertenor David Gould, conjures up that sound described by the great music historian Hans Redlich as growing out of “the antithesis between extravagant/debauched eroticism and self-castigating longing for death”.