Gesualdo: Madrigals, Book 4

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COMPOSERS: Gesualdo
LABELS: Glossa
ALBUM TITLE: Gesualdo
WORKS: Madrigals, Book 4
PERFORMER: La Venexiana
CATALOGUE NO: GCD 920934 (Reissue – 2000)
This is a reissue of the first Gesualdo disc to be recorded by La Venexiana, first released in 2000. It still sounds fresh, but the booklet no longer has the names of the performers against individual tracks, and the musically informative introduction has been replaced with a general reverie on

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the notion of ‘secretiveness’.

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Even so, there is much to enjoy here. First, the music is surprisingly varied, ranging from the complex melodies of Or che in gioia, to the shockingly surreal harmonies of Mercè grido (this last is actually from Gesualdo’s fifth book, and some other items are from the second). Moreover, the performances are generally effective with fine bass singing from Daniele Carnovich, some tricky but impressive lute playing from Franco Pavan and Fabio Bonizzoni, and some neat soprano work from Rossana Bertini. It would have been better if the silences between the phrases in Cor mio were not quite so long (they begin to destroy the grammatical sense) and if the imitative work between soprano and bass in Io tacerò had been slightly highlighted acoustically and stylistically. But these are richly complex works and these performances do them more justice than most. Anthony Pryer