Although the authorship of this short but extraordinary work had never been firmly attributed to Carlo Gesualdo, Prince of Venosa, it is generally programmed as one of his works. If it is, it is the only keyboard work of a composer principally known for his highly expressive Mannerist madrigals and darkly hued sacred works. The canzon has one of the most rigorous forms of late Renaissance keyboard works, a piece in strict contrapuntal style and structured in several sections. The Canzon del Principe conforms to such a description, but is especially remarkable for its extreme dissonance, chromaticism, and unexpected harmonic progressions, effects that it has been suggested could only have been associated in Gesualdo's mind with the archicembalo, a keyboard instrument with six manuals and 31 keys to each octave, and capable of playing all the diatonic, chromatic, and enharmonic notes known to ancient Greek theory.
Description by Brian Robins
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