The first volume in Delitiæ Musicæ's series of the complete madrigals of Don Carlo Gesualdo is a promising beginning for the project, for the singers -- countertenors Alessandro Carmignani and Paolo Costa, tenors Fabio Fùrnari and Paolo Fanciullacci, baritone Marco Scavazza, and bass Walter Testolin, under the direction of Marco Longhini -- have the right attributes for this music. The utter clarity of their voices is essential for understand the winding counterpoint that is characteristic of Gesualdo's mannerist style, and the steadiness of their intonation is crucial to conveying the plangent cross-relations and odd chromatic shifts that are features of these works. Gesualdo's music is intensely expressive of the dark and painful emotions, whether of love, as portrayed in the madrigals, or of faith, as in his sacred motets. In the madrigals, the subjects of beauty and desire are inextricably bound up with suffering and death, and Gesualdo is adept at shifting moods from rapture to misery with rapidity. The sudden changes in rhythms and tempos also contribute to the emotional instability, and Delitiæ Muicæ's unity of expression and steady control help keep the music coherent and within the bounds of communicable feeling. Naxos provides clean and close-up sound, so the group has real presence, and the soft resonance of the acoustics gives dimension to the voices without blurring them.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|The First Book of Madrigals, 1594|