Gesualdo: Sesto Libro di madrigali (1611)

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LABELS: Glossa
ALBUM TITLE: Gesualdo: Sesto Libro di madrigali (1611)
WORKS: Sesto Libro di madrigali (1611)
PERFORMER: La Compagnia del Madrigale


This year is the 400th anniversary of Gesualdo’s death and, as expected, there has been a flurry of recordings.  This offering is the best so far, though something odd has happened to the Glossa Gesualdo madrigal series. It began with Books 4 and 5 recorded by La Venexiana, and has now switched to this new group, La Compagnia del Madrigale, half of which belonged to La Venexiana.

Whatever their backstory, these extremely accomplished singers make sense of these notoriously wayward and enigmatic works. Musically, they are aided by a secure bass singer (Daniele Carnovitch) who anchors every exotic chord in its proper place, and they transpose downwards many of these pieces so as to allow the more relaxed voices greater expressive range (as in ‘Tu segui’). They also make the most of the pictorial and narrative aspects of the texts (as in the little drama about a mosquito in ‘Ardita zanzaretta’), while, in a work such as ‘Mille volte’, they are able to capture the kaleidoscopic thoughts of the poetry, producing clarity of utterance in spite of the intricate counterpoint.


Anthony Pryer