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Around he moved to Ferrara birthplace of Frescobaldi which was then an important artistic centre. The first four volumes of madrigals appeared between and The following year Gesualdo returned to Naples where he resided until his death. The final two volumes of the set appeared in and represent his most radical achievement. It is a myth to suppose that everything he wrote was at the harmonic cutting-edge. It would be easy to accuse Carlo G. However, scholars seem to be agreed that the reason for his technical innovations and experiments was to enhance the musical and poetic interpretation of the text.

The music on this disc is drawn from all six books, however the emphasis is on the more radical final two volumes. Listeners should note that the first four madrigals are repeated at the end of the recital in a slightly different order, but having the same timings. Musica Ficta is a professional vocal ensemble that specialises, but is not limited to, early music. Yet I believe that this is not a problem. It brings the music to life, it provides a context that would have delighted the composer and gives a spontaneity that is denied to a studio-produced performance.

There is much that is indescribably beautiful in these madrigals as well as moments that are difficult even for a generation versed in the music of Stockhausen and Ligetti try the Nonsense Madrigals. This disc stands as a fine introduction to Gesualdo. There were still no scores available to these early musicologists save those printed in the seventeenth century.

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The availability and reliability of editions has played an important role in the study of Gesualdo's music and, therefore, are a suitable departure point for a literature review, before exploring the early German studies of his work. Scores After its first publication in , Gesualdo's first book of madrigals was reprinted five times, the last edition in His other books, too, were all reissued, though the later books did not undergo as many reprints; the sixth book, for example, was reprinted only once in Mutio Effrem published a collection of Gesualdo's madrigals for six voices in This was the last seventeenth-century publication of his music; only the Quintus part is extant.

Gesualdo's sacred music, two motet collections and a responsory for the Tenebrae services of Holy Week, was printed only once. The two motet collections, one for six voices and one for five, both marked 'liber primus,' were printed in If a second collection for either of these books was printed it has not survived and the six-voice collection is missing two partbooks. The Responsoria et alia ad Officium Hebdomadae Sancte spectantia sex vocibus was printed in Naples by Carlino in and, like the motets, was not in print again until the twentieth century.

Although there are small discrepancies between copies, 8 it provides a reliable primary source for the music. Completed in , it took a more critical approach than the Bizzelli edition and incorporated Gesualdo's sacred works with a volume of addenda, which included an instrumental gagliarde, several canzone from other collections, a keyboard piece attributed to Gesualdo and a facsimile of the surviving partbook of the collection.

For the first time since the early seicento, all of Gesualdo's music was in print, readily available in a scholarly edition, to scholars and performers alike. Francesco Vatelli Rome: Insituto Italiano per la storia della musica, The exact date of publication is not clear, the Royal College of Music library catalogue lists the date of publication as c. The date cited in the text is taken from the 'Introduzione' from the critical edition cited in footnote 8. Unlike the Weismann edition, the part books were used as sources alongside Molinaro's edition and the collection has a lengthy preface examining these sources in detail.

The fifth book was edited by Maria Caraci Vela and the sixth by Antonio Delfino; they are accompanied by the texts of the madrigals edited by Nicola Panizza and an essay by Francesco Saggio. The first of these is found in Stefano Felis' Liber secundus motectorum, composed for five, six and eight voices and printed by Gardano in Venice.

One five voice motet of this collection is marked 'Illustris. The three ricercate of are printed in Giovanni de Macque's Ricercate e canzoni francese of which only the Tenor part of a total four voices is extant. Early Studies Knowledge of Gesualdo's music did not completely disappear throughout the centuries between his death and the first musicological monograph on his music in , although the references are somewhat scant until the turn of the twentieth century.

However, it is not clear whether this critical edition is part of the same project or not. Although the work is now known to contain many factual inaccuracies, the model set out in his biography became the basis for subsequent studies that would expand and correct the details as scholarship progressed. Keiner recognises that Gesualdo's madrigals are composed in the modal system; however, without the musicological studies available to later generations of scholars, he was unable to develop a more historically informed approach to his analysis and he therefore used tonal language such as 'secondary dominant' to describe the processes he saw in the music.

Reading into Gesualdo's music processes that they saw in their own, musicians of the early twentieth century began to see parallels with themselves. Although this was the result of the projection of tonal language onto the music, there are similarities in the compositional process employed by Gesualdo and the composers of the twentieth century, 17 as well as uncanny resemblances between harmonic movement in Gesualdo's madrigals and Wagner's operas.

Their harmony is so unusual, even eccentric, that it could not be appreciated before the 20th century, because it surpassed in strangeness anything that had been produced up to our own age. Only at present, in the age of Richard Strauss, Debussy, Scriabine, Busoni, can one see that this great impressionist Gesualdo is akin to these modern masters, their brother. This idea of the 'eccentric genius' has always appealed to artistic minds, though it is an interpretation of Gesualdo's music that does not bear careful scrutiny.

Cecil Gray and Philip Heseltine were the first scholars to publish a work that showed sensitivity towards the musical culture of the late cinquecento and early seicento, dispensing with the idea that Gesualdo was 'three centuries ahead of his time. Gray and Heseltine's book set out the most accurate biographical information available to them at the time, combined with an intelligent review of Gesualdo's music; in doing so it established a biography on Gesualdo that would inform scholars of the next generation, building on the work of Keiner.

Sandwiched between these well-informed, erudite chapters, is a disturbing perhaps even facetious chapter by Cecil Gray entitled 'Carlo Gesualdo Considered as a Murderer' in which he appraises 'the merits and faults of Don Carlo's achievement as a murderer'20 concluding 'Gesualdo's eminence in the art of murder is no less than it is in the art of music, and that his achievement in both spheres has been unduly and undeservedly neglected.

In contrast to Gray, Heseltine considered Gesualdo not as an artisan murderer and 'by no means an isolated person of eccentric genius, but rather the fine flower of a school of daringly imaginative experimental composers.

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We cannot listen ear to ear with its contemporary hearers. But this is an aesthetic fallacy. Yet Heseltine, whilst acknowledging the impossibility of hearing Gesualdo in the same way it was heard in his own day, recognises the danger of disregarding the subtleties of cinquecento theory in amplifying the effects of anachronism. To Heseltine, awareness of contemporary music practices enhances the drama in the music. This awareness remains pertinent to all analysts too; his comments are still relevant for avoiding the trap of 'aesthetic fallacy. He then proceeds to examine Gesualdo's use of harmony and chromaticism.

Whilst Marshall 24 ibid. For example, in discussing Gesualdo's 'harmonic material,' he describes German sixths; yet, he does go some way towards expressing the inability of the language to describe the musical processes: We would expect to find some examples of augmented sixth chords in Gesualdo's madrigals, and we are not disappointed. In Io pur respiro VI, 10 the 'German' sixth makes its appearance. What we see in the example is the definitely harmonic stress of an intense interval that was to play a great role during the period of major-minor harmony.

Nevertheless, in describing Gesualdo's use of harmonic language, Marshall makes many useful comments, for example outlining Gesualdo's use of root chords, dissonance and rhythm to highlight harmonic features. Despite brief anachronisms, such as in the example above and the occasional tendency to use tonal language, his comments are of value. He does not dismiss the idea of mode, but discusses it alongside perceived tonal features. In describing Gesualdo's chromaticism, however, the same cannot be said and the terminology belongs to a different age: [Gesualdo's] Chromatic technique may be divided into six categories: 1 Cadential alteration, 2 Secondary dominants, 3 Modulation, 4 Modal changes, 5 Non-dominant alterations, and 6 Chromatic non-harmonic tones.

Notwithstanding, Marshall's dissertation was an important stepping-stone in the understanding of Gesualdo's music. Seven years later Edward E. Lowinsky published Tonality and Atonality in Sixteenth-Century Music in which he describes the chromaticism found in music of the latter half of the sixteenth century as 'phenomena that cannot be understood either in terms of the old modality or in those of the newly 26 ibid. The piece hovers somewhere between E major, E minor, Phrygian and A minor. Not a single authentic cadence appears in the work. To cancel in each phrase the tonal implications of the preceding phrase, to create a state of tortured suspense, to refuse the searching mind any place to rest—these are the most definite tendencies discoverable.

Constant alternation between major and minor intervals, continued shifts of the harmonic center, and complete chromatization of the scale it takes Gesualdo no more than seven measures to present all twelve tones —these are the chief means of attaining that tonal instability which Gesualdo needed to express the turmoil of his inner world.

For example, when considering the opening of 'Moro lasso,' to him, the contemporary listener of today hears the opening chordal sonorities of Gesualdo's 'Moro lasso' … as a provocative, unsettling, and disruptive event—just as did the listener of the seventeenth century—because Gesualdo's musical gesture 27 Edward E.

In this work as in many others Gesualdo provides a constant shifting back and forth between this highly chromatic style and the more normal diatonic harmonies of the age as if to aid the listener in measuring the dissonance at the beginning of the madrigal. Yet if the piece were written entirely in the style of 'triadic atonality' it would remain jarring from beginning to end, as other pieces in this style do. He identifies how Gesualdo combines 'diatonic harmonies of the age' with those outside a 'causal or logical sequence.

This method can also find structure to the progressions described by Lowinsky as 'traidic atonality' and by Chafe as 'disruptive. Nevertheless, '[t]here is remarkably little agreement about what the word "mannerism" means'34 and, as critiquing the relevance or efficacy of the term to Gesualdo's music is beyond the scope of this study, the following paragraphs will demonstrate how the term revealed new perspectives on his music.

For her, 'Gesualdo represents the mannerist love of excessive distortion and stylization in an unmistakable way. Yet, the study of individual's 'maniera' which can be loosely translated as 'style' allows for particular elements of a composer's language to be explored in detail, which in Gesualdo's case focuses on his chromaticism and harmonic progressions.

As far as chromaticism is concerned, scholars agree that Gesualdo's personal audacities stem from the isolation and new function of semitonal relationships between vertical progressions. This specific instance is important inasmuch as the roots are a semitone apart, and motion from one to the other entails three linear semitones.

The latter type of progression produces three linear semitones and three linear tritones at the same time. Thus, it is correct to conclude that semitonal motion, the theoretical basis of Vicentino's chromatic genus, finds its apotheosis in Gesualdo's maniera. This results, as Maniates describes, in 'considerable disagreement as to the exact technicalities that constitute his maniera.

For Maniates then, Mannerism may, arguably, aid in the construction and identification of historiographical canon, but it does not necessarily further the understanding of Gesualdo's compositional procedure and the role of the chromatic genus. Another scholar who dealt with the question of mannerism in Gesualdo's music is Glenn Watkins. Published in , Gesualdo: The man and his music is a ground-breaking work in Gesualdo scholarship.

Divided into two halves, one dealing with his biography and the other with his music, Watkins considers 'The Question of Mannerism' in his opening discussion on the music. Entering the debate on Mannerism in music taking place during the s, Watkins places Gesualdo at the point of music history 'leading from the central movement of the Renaissance, while standing somewhat apart from it; and moving toward, but stopping short of, the Baroque.

In the opening section of his book, 'The Man,' Watkins provides a comprehensive and detailed examination of Gesualdo's life. Translating primary sources, he brings together a comprehensive narrative that goes into much more detail than Keiner or Gray. Although scholarship has uncovered more details in the forty years since the book's publication, this biography is still largely accurate. However, of more significance to the present study is Watkins' analysis of Gesualdo's music.

He devotes an entire chapter to the subject of 'Text and Form,' in which he analyses the relationship between the structure of madrigal text and musical form, including the contraction of texts to suit musical structure.

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In this he states 'Gesualdo is not unique in his textual habits, other well-known composers grafting and abbreviating texts to their taste. There can be no question that Gesualdo knew and had studied the classic masters extensively, and in spite of a few traits which are openly personal, the care he exercised in voice-leading reveals a composer well versed in the traditions of contrapuntal practice.

Paradoxically, however, the harmonic sections themselves are frequently most readily explained in terms of contrapuntal procedures. Vincenzo Galilei's unpublished counterpoint treatise of provides perhaps the clearest contemporary statement concerning the use of dissonance. Here he claims the validity for expressive purposes of a wide range of suspension figures, tritone movements, inflected resolutions, accented and unprepared dissonances.

Yet, he does not systematically attempt to tie these interval structures to the chromatic patterns described by Vicentino, despite acknowledging him as an influence. He concludes his discussion on chromaticism in 41 ibid. Individually most of his fanciful notions may have been anticipated by other madrigalists, but through the sheer concentration of these ideas, poised and balanced in the most fragile way, Gesualdo forged a language which juxtaposed the chromatic with the diatonic in a variety and intensity not matched by any of his predecessors.

Neither the intrepid Caimo, the youthful Lasso, nor the audacious Vicentino exploited the idiom much beyond the illustration of a theoretical idea. How this is so remains to be discussed.

Se la mia morte brami, W6.13

This thesis will attempt to identify how Gesualdo 'forged a language which juxtaposed the chromatic with the diatonic' and establish its origins, as well as a practical method of deployment in composition. Although Watkins discusses the role of a tonal centre in Gesualdo's madrigals, he shies away from a direct confrontation with the topic of mode in the madrigals. This, too, will form a central role in this thesis. Watkins concludes his monograph by examining Gesualdo's relationships with other composers. However, this subject is worthy of a book in itself and the discourse is necessarily brief.

Keith Larson examines the subject in greater detail, at least with respect to Neapolitan composers, in his thesis 'The Unaccompanied Madrigal in Naples — Although Larson provides the starting block, much research still remains to be done into the relationship between the music of Gesualdo and his peers, particularly with respect to the compositional process of their chromaticism. Watkins published a further volume on Gesualdo, The Gesualdo Hex, which updates his biography and discusses his reception in the twentieth century, particularly Stravinsky's infatuation with his music.

His book Hexachords in LateRenaissance Music demonstrates a practical method for employing the hexachord in compositional procedure. None of the essays relate to aspects of Gesualdo's music pertinent to this thesis. Although Mengozzi makes a credible argument, it is likely that by the late sixteenth century the modes had come to obtain 37 method of including hexachords in analysis of 'late-Renaissance' music that differs from earlier medieval understandings of the hexachord. Pike analyses Gesualdo's use of hexachords in the final cadence of 'Moro lasso' 52 and also provides examples of Gesualdo's use of inganno.

Although Anne Smith's The Performance of 16th-Century Music: Learning from the Theorists 'is intended for practical musicians,'53 she provides practical advice for the analyst too. Especially relevant for this thesis is her explanation of hexachords and modes, which has been drawn upon in Chapter 2 of this thesis. She expounds a method for the modern performer to apply the nuances of sixteenth-century music theory. Yet this is still pertinent to the analyses of this thesis. For example, she identifies cadences as being 'frequently inaudible in performances of 16th-century polyphony.

Identifying and recognising the importance of cadences and their cadential pitches is crucial to the understanding of Gesualdo's use of mode in this thesis. Eric Chafe established a new method of analysis of Monteverdi's Tonal Language. For example, he views hexachords not just as sight-singing mnemonics, but also as harmonic regions, made of harmonies built on the six degrees of the hexachord. This can be applied to some of Gesualdo's madrigals, especially those of Books I and II; however, it breaks down in the chromatic passages of his later madrigals.

Frans Wiering establishes an understanding of modal theory suitable for polyphony in The Language of the Modes: Studies in the History of Polyphonic Music. It would be probable that late cinquecento composers were aware of this and would make the connections when setting text to music. Yet, the harmony of Gesualdo's madrigals evades modal rules and his chromatic style has perplexed analysts. This thesis reappraises the modal and chromatic features in his madrigals and expands on their significance by employing pitch-class set theory analysis to enhance a more traditional modal approach.

Whilst analysis of the music through modal features and pitch-class set theory may appear to use contradictory analytical methods, the two can complement each other through the recognition of certain interval patterns regarded as significant by cinquecento music theorists.

Ultimately, this analytical technique provides a language with which to articulate the modal and chromatic processes occurring in his music. Alessandrini, Rinaldo. Anthon, Carl G. Apel, Willi. Arnold, Denis. London: Oxford University Press, Arnold, Denis and Carter, Tim. Barbieri, Patrizio. Enharmonic Instruments and Music. Roma: Il Levante, Barbour, James Murray. Tuning and Temperament. New York: Da Capo Press, Barnett, Gregory.

Gesualdo: Se la mia morte brami from 'Madrigali libro sesto'

Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, Bent, Ian, and Drabkin, William. Berger, Karol. Bernstein, Jane A.


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Ferrara the Estense City. Modena: Edizioni Italcards, n. Bottrigari, Hercole. Il Melone e Il Melone secondo, Facsimile printed: Bologna: Forni, Il Desidero. American Institute of Musicology, Boyle, Hugh, and Lloyd, Llewellyn Southworth. Intervals, Scales and Temperaments. At times it seems to sit on the edge of tonality.

Tu piangi, o Filli mia no. Wonderfully realized by Herreweghe and his vocal ensemble. One can understand, listening to this music, why it aroused the interest of Schoenberg and Stravinsky. I have to say that I have a preference for this later book, for its sheer stunning writing and innovation. The two recordings are well produced, and both benefit from sympathetic acoustics, conferring a spacious and suitably resonant ambience on proceedings.

In these recordings technical accomplishment is second to none, with intonation being flawless. Both vocal groups bring intelligence and profound musicality to their readings. There's an instinctive contouring of the ebb and flow of the musical line. Gesualdo's dynamic shifts are adroitly addressed. I'm particularly drawn to Herreweghe's employment of a lute, which adds that extra fillip of colour, delicately reinforcing the line, yet always discreet.

La Compagnia del Madrigale are equally engaging and offer a bonus of three tracks featuring composers closely associated with Gesualdo. Italian texts, with English, French and German translations are provided with both releases. We are currently offering in excess of 51, reviews. Donate and keep us afloat.

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