Gesualdo Consort / Harry van der Kamp

Carlo Gesualdo: Madrigali Libri I-III

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AllMusic Review by

When you want music filled to the brim with despair and death, Carlo Gesualdo is the composer you want. Consider opening lines like those of the first four of his third collection of madrigals: "You want me to die," "Whether I die or not," "Alas, life of despair," and "I languish and die": even Dowland and Shostakovich are cheerier than Gesualdo. But, however dark his texts, it cannot be denied that Gesualdo set them with absolute fidelity and utmost sincerity. His lines are twisted, his harmonies are tortured, and his counterpoint is agonizing, but they suit his morbid and morose texts like George Gershwin's music fit his brother Ira's lyrics. The performances on these discs of the complete first, second, and third books of madrigals with Harry van der Kamp leading the Gesualdo Consort Amsterdam are 142 minutes and 53 seconds of the purest agony. The singers have perfect pitch, ideal intonation, and exquisite ensemble, but the melodies they sing pierce the heart. Van der Kamp sculpts lucid performances, but the music lacerates the soul. The brief bonuses of two harpsichord works, performed by Alexander Wittmann, included in the third book show that Gesualdo could occasionally relax with a straightforward keyboard toccata. CPO's sound is warm and clear, but a little distant.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Baci soavi e cari, madrigal for 5 voices (Book 1), W. 1/13
1
2:54
2
2:50
3
3:40
4
2:51
5
2:20
Mentre madonna il lasso fianco posa, madrigal for 5 voices (Book 1), W. 1/31
6
2:04
7
1:58
8
1:59
9
1:01
10
2:30
11
2:38
Tirsi morir volea, madrigal for 5 voices (Book 1), W. 1/50
12
2:12
13
2:10
14
2:11
15
2:19
16
2:47
Felice primavera, madrigal for 5 voices (Book 1), W. 1/68
17
1:23
18
1:02
19
2:28
20
1:30
Caro amoroso neo, madrigal for 5 voices (Book 2), W. 2/13
21
1:29
22
1:35
23
2:44
Se per lieve ferita, madrigal for 5 voices (Book 2), W. 2/22
24
1:39
25
2:19
26
2:24
Se così dolce e il duolo, madrigal for 5 voices (Book 2), W. 2/30
27
1:02
28
1:42
29
1:59
O com'è gran martire, madrigal for 5 voices (Book 2), W. 2/35
30
1:20
31
1:15
32
3:21
33
3:49

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Non e questa la mano, madrigal for 5 voices (Book 2), W. 2/41
1
0:59
2
2:06
3
2:56
Dalle odorate spoglie, madrigal for 5 voices (Book 2).W. 2/48
4
0:37
5
1:25
6
2:07
7
2:07
8
1:39
Voi volete ch'io mora, madrigal for 5 voices (Book 3), W. 3/13
9
1:23
10
2:30
11
1:36
12
3:38
13
2:23
14
3:18
15
2:45
16
2:41
Sospirava il mio core, madrigal for 5 voices (Book 3), W. 3/35
17
2:04
18
2:29
19
2:23
20
2:24
Meraviglia d'Amore, madrigal for 5 voices (Book 3), W. 3/45
21
1:07
22
1:54
23
2:49
24
3:06
25
2:50
26
3:24
27
2:01
28
2:36
29
1:54
30
3:17
31
2:25
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