These are technically very fine and dramatically convincing and coherent readings which I would certainly listen to in preference to any other record of Gesualdo's madrigals currently available.
For this, their first foray into the schizophrenic world of Carlo Gesualdo's five-voice madrigals, Les Arts Florissants have selected their programme from the last three books, pieces in which the highly-mannered and exaggerated aspects of the composer's style reach their most extreme expression. Nevertheless, we should not think of all these works being undifferentiated in style, and one of the fascinations of this record, which has been very carefully planned, is the insight it offers into the gradual emergence and sharpeningRead more of the features which characterize Gesualdo's late madrigalian manner. Some of those elements can already be heard in Sospirava ii mio cor from the Third Book; by the last tracks they are present, with all their compositional distortions, in full dress.
William Christie and Les Arts Florissants are no strangers to the aesthetic of the Italian madrigal in its last decades, though I have often felt that both their sympathies and skills are really attuned to the French seventeenth-century repertories. This record, like so many of their productions, is full of surprises on both the large and small scales. The first, of a general kind, is the decision to add continuo accompaniments avant la lettre. This is certainly justifiable on historical grounds (even though continuo parts were not printed in the original edition), though I am less sure about the precise way it has been done with some passages within a piece still left a cappella. What is certainly less justifiable, if only on artistic grounds, is the performance of two madrigals on instruments alone (lo tacerO and Corrente amanti); it makes little sense to attempt such highly-charged worddriven music in this way. What will also surprise some is the rather understated almost classically pure character of the interpretations, though I am relieved that the calculatedly neurotic and deliberately out-of-tune manner so often turned out for Gesualdo has here been eschewed. Nevertheless, a more vigorous projection of the texts would have been more faithful to the sound of the Italian language. That said, these are technically very fine and dramatically convincing and coherent readings which I would certainly listen to in preference to any other record of Gesualdo's madrigals currently available.
- Gramophone (Review from original release in October, 1988) Read less
Works on This Recording
Madrigals, Book 3: Ahi, disperata vitaby Carlo Gesualdo Conductor:
Les Arts Florissants
Period: Renaissance Written: by 1595; Italy Length: 1 Minutes 25 Secs.