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Für die Auflösung der Tonalität wird in Musiklehrbüchern gemeinhin der Komponist Arnold Schönberg verantwortlich gemacht. Das ist zutreffend, aber die ersten Löcher bekam das scheinbar robuste Dur/Moll-System schon 300 Jahre früher, als es selbst noch auf Kinderbeinen stand. Es war der italienische Fürst Carlo Gesualdo di Venosa (1566 bis 1613), der als Komponist die Extreme liebte: In seinen Madrigalen ist Liebe ein grausamer Vorgang, der auf beiden Seiten Opfer hinterlässt. […] Das Hilliard Ensemble ist in dieser Sonderwelt des bizarren Fürsten bestens eingerichtet, es weiß, dass seine Gebäude aus dünnen, beweglichen Wänden bestehen, in denen man zuweilen von A-Dur direkt nach Es-Dur schreitet – die denkbar größte Entfernung in einem einzigen Schritt. Wie die fünf Sänger sie überwinden, ist atemberaubend.
Wolfram Goertz, Die Zeit

The Hilliard Ensemble captures perfectly the neurotic frenzy, pathologically dislocated harmonies, mental turmoil and nihilism of these extraordinary works, which can still shock the ear and chill the soul. […] perfect intonation and clear textures allow the music to speak for itself. And how!
Richard Morrison, The Times

This fine Hilliard Ensemble disc of the Fifth Book of Madrigals (published in 1611) highlights Gesualdo’s individuality with remarkable fluency, pungency and colouring, identifying a composer who baffled his contemporaries but whose music is a constant source of wonder.
Geoffrey Norris, Daily Telegraph

Les vocalistes du Hilliard Ensemble sont de fins connaisseurs de la Renaissance, et notamment de L’écriture extraordinaire de Carlo Gesualdo. Ils ont été invites à le démontrer souls les micros d’ECM, qui ont capté les superbes Madrigaux du cinquième livre. […] Le quatour anglais donne à ce langage une expressivité riche en reliefs.
La Liberté

Published in 1611, these works display all the extraordinary harmonic twists and turns that allowed Gesualdo to express extreme emotions in a way they had never been before, not even by his contemporary Monteverdi. There’s a boldness of delivery, coupled with deliciously turned phrases, that gives these performances an intoxicating beauty.
Kenneth Walton, The Scotsman

“If I die I do not look, but live not when I look – thus I am dead, but not bereft of life.” The elegant rhetoric betrays Gesualdo’s aristocratic background, and its internal contradiction neatly reflects the baffling ingenuity of his work, whose dissonances were literally centuries ahead of his time, their bold gambits regarded with suspicion by his 16th-century peers, and even now testing the imagination and ingenuity of even as accomplished a team as the Hilliard quartet.
Andy Gill, The Independent

Those familiar with Gesualdo will be more than satisfied with the Hilliard approach. Those curious about why so many modern composers have made so much fuss over him will definitely have their curiosity satisfied.
Stephen Smoliar, Examiner.com

Three centuries before Freud (and two millennia after Sappho), Gesualdo looked unflinchingly at the coupling of Eros and Thanatos in the acid harmonies of “Mercè grido piangendo!” (“Weeping, I cry for pity”), sung with razor-edged finesse by the Hilliards. They resolve the mad polyphony of “O tenebroso giorno” (“O dark day”) in hushed awe before a gaze that brings both “life and death”. Thanks to them, the “sweetness and delight” evoked in the collection’s envoi, “T’amo mia vita” (“I love you, my life”), shine forth even through the darkness of Gesualdo’s art.
Marion Lignana Rosenberg, Timeout.com/New York


Few vocalists if any could match this group for their tuning. In works such as Dolcissima mia vita (with its chromatic ending and its flickering lines at the word ‘fire’), the effect is sauperbly assured and focused.
Anthony Pryer, BBC Music Magazine

Flawless tone, intonation, articulation, superb musicality and intelligent interpretation in a crystal-clear recording – what more could you want?
D. James Ross, Early Music Review

With Quinto Libro die Madrigali, the Hilliard Ensemble have recorded Book Five of Gesualdo’s five-part madrigals, (which total six books) composed between 1594-1611. The 55:16,21-track recording is a beautifuly rendered interpretation of this music. The way the Ensemble’s voices blend is really something special, and the addition of Monika Mauch and David Gould just add to the verall impact of the entire set.
[...] To put it simply, Quinto Libro di Madrigali is a magnificent realization of the music of Don Carlo Gesualdo, and should not be missed by fans of one of the most outstanding vocal ensembles of our time.
Greg Barbrick, Blinded by Sound

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