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Gesualdo: Tenebrae, Responsories, Etc / A Sei Voci


Release Date: 05/22/2007 
Label:  Apex   Catalog #: 62782   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Carlo Gesualdo
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble a Sei Voci
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 2 Hours 10 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



GESUALDO Responsories for Holy Week. Miserere. Benedictus A Sei Voci APEX 62782 (2 CDs: 130:15)


Now that Warner Classics is a reissue operation, they have established the Apex label to restore some of their back catalog. The nine responsories for Tenebrae of Good Friday first appeared on Erato 71520, then Musical Heritage Society 7311. Two years later the other 18 responsories with the canticle and psalm that were sung each day were recorded (one member of the group being Read more replaced), and the complete set was issued on two CDs as ECD 75354. This was early in the ensemble’s career, and there were only three other complete sets of these works in the catalog. The earliest, from the Deller Consort (2:4 and 4:5), was also sung one voice to a part, while Ireneu Segarra’s boys and men of Montserrat (3:6) offered a choral rendition that I found ineffably moving. A set by Edmund Kajdasz’s choir on Veriton was made after the Deller, but remained obscure. I paid a decent price for the five-LP set just to find out what it sounded like. There was also a single LP of Holy Saturday responsories with the canticle and the psalm under Miroslav Venhoda (7:6). The Erato CDs were never issued here, Kajdasz and Segarra never appeared on CD, and Deller’s first disc alone (Holy Thursday) was issued on Musique d’Abord mistakenly titled as Leçons rather than Répons (11:4).


All of this became history with the arrival of the version by the Hilliard Ensemble (14:6), a group that found Gesualdo’s chromaticism a perfect opportunity to demonstrate its superb tuning. About the same time we had Holy Thursday from the Weimar Hofsänger (20:6) and the King’s Singers (not reviewed here); Good Friday from Andrew Parrott (24:1); and Holy Saturday from Peter Phillips (11:6), Philippe Herreweghe (14:1), and Richard Marlow (19:2). (Some pieces have also been recorded singly.) All of these were sung one voice to a part except Marlow’s choir and the small vocal ensembles under Phillips and Herreweghe. That means the choice is wider now but the only complete sets are Hilliard’s and this one.


Certainly both of these sets are stunning, sung similarly by one male voice to a part. While I have lived with the excellence of the Hilliard and used it as a basis of comparison ever since, I can only agree that this group is their equal. At a lower price, there is only a brief note and the texts must be downloaded from a Web site. A Sei Voci uses the psalm and the canticle to divide the three sets of responsories, while Hilliard simply puts them at the end. Of the alternatives, only Andrew Parrott sets the responsories in the context of chant antiphons, psalms, and lessons, not complete but sufficient to expose the structure of Tenebrae, if only for one day. Each of these alternatives has their own special appeal.


FANFARE: J. F. Weber
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Works on This Recording

1. Responsories (9), Sabbato Sancto by Carlo Gesualdo
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble a Sei Voci
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 1611 
Notes: Ensemble: Ensemble a Sei Voci. 
2. Benedictus Dominus Deus Israel by Carlo Gesualdo
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble a Sei Voci
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 1611; Italy 
Notes: Ensemble: Ensemble a Sei Voci. 
3. Responsoria: Miserere by Carlo Gesualdo
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble a Sei Voci
Language: Latin 
Notes: Ensemble: Ensemble a Sei Voci. 
4. Responsories (9), Feria 5 by Carlo Gesualdo
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble a Sei Voci
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 1611; Italy 
5. Responsories (9), Feria 6 by Carlo Gesualdo
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble a Sei Voci
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 1611; Italy 

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