Carlo Gesualdo (1566 - 1613)

Episodes

EpisodeTitleFirst
Broadcast
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01Getting Away With Murder20180326

Donald Macleod looks at the curious life and music of Carlo Gesualdo.

Series exploring the life and works of a succession of composers

Donald Macleod looks at the life and music of Carlo Gesualdo, Prince of Venosa, notorious for the murder of his first wife and cousin, Maria d'Avalos. In his earliest extant composition he pleads for divine mercy for his misdeeds. This was written several years before committing a brutal murder to defend his honour. Until the death of his older brother, Carlo Gesualdo was always destined for a career in the Church. But on becoming the heir to the house of Gesualdo he married his beautiful cousin, Maria d'Avalos, said to be the most beautiful woman in Naples. Later, learning of her infidelity, he was obliged to act to preserve the honour of his house. Donald recounts some of the horrendous events of that night in 1590 when Gesualdo - a man passionately interested in music and in hunting - would deal with his wife and her lover.

Moro lasso (transcribed by Tönu Kaljuste)
Tallinn Chamber Orchestra

Ne reminiscaris; In te Domine speravi
La Compagnia del Madrigale

Baci soave e cari; Quanto ha di dolce Amore; Mentre Madonna il lasso fianco posa;
Ahi, troppo saggia nell'erar
Gesualdo Consort Amsterdam
Harry van der Kamp, director

Com'esser può ch'io viva se m'uccidi; Son sì belle le rose; Bell'angioletta da le vaghe piume
Gesualdo Consort Amsterdam
Harry van der Kamp, director

Caro amoroso neo; Ma se tale ha costei; Se cosi dolce e il duolo; Ma se averra ch'io moia
Delitiae Musicae
Marco Longhini, director

Canzon francese del principe
Fabio Antonio Falcone, harpsichord

Sento che nel partire
Kassiopeia Quintet

O Crux benedicta (arranged by Erkki Sven Tüür)
Tallinnn Chamber Orchestra
Tönu Kaljuste, conductor.

02A Second Marriage20180327

Donald Macleod continues his account of the extraordinary life and music of Carlo Gesualdo

Series exploring the life and works of a succession of composers

Donald Macleod looks at the extraordinary life and music of Carlo Gesualdo, Prince of Venosa.
A mere two years after murdering his first wife, the beautiful Donna Maria d'Avalos, Gesualdo is betrothed to marry another eligible woman - Leonora d'Este. He sets out for the Este court at Ferrara, and among the 300 items of luggage he transports there he takes care to pack his books of madrigals. The experience of Ferrara's wondrous musical culture will profoundly influence his own compositions. As to the second marriage - it was barely happier than Gesualdo's first.

Felice primavera; Danzan le Ninfe; Tirsi morir volea
Gesualdo Consort Amsterdam
Harry Van Der Kamp, director

Io tacero
Les Arts Florissants
William Christie, director

Gagliarda del Principe di Venosa
Delitiae Musicae
Marco Longhini, director

Come vivi cor mio; All'ombra degli allori
Delitiae Musicae
Marco Longhini, director

Languisco e moro; Dolcissimo sospiro
Delitiae Musicae
Marco Longhini, director

Luci serene e chiare; Arde il mio cor
Les Arts Florissants
William Christie, director

Sparge la morte al mio Signor
Delitiae Musicae
Marco Longhini, director.

03A Matter Of Love And Death20180328

Donald Macleod continues the story of Carlo Gesualdo, as he develops his particular style.

Series exploring the life and works of a succession of composers

Donald Macleod continues his look at the life and music of Carlo Gesualdo, Prince of Venosa. Now remarried, Gesualdo is far from being a model husband. There are whispers that he abuses her verbally, and sometimes physically. Certainly, they spend many months apart. As ever, Gesualdo is obsessed with music, and in common with some of his contemporaries further explores the expressive possibilities of chromaticism and counterpoint in madrigals and motets. Both Gesualdo and Leonora, his wife, take delight in their young son Alfonsino, but will be devastated when the infant falls ill and dies.

Moro, e mentre spiro; Quando di lui ha sospirata vita; Ecco, moriro dunque; Ahi, gia mi discoloro
Delitiae Musicae
Marco Longhini, director

Illumina faciem tuam; Tribulationem et dolorem; Laboravi in gemitu meo
Oxford Camerata
Jeremy Summerly, director

Sospirava il mio core; O mal nati messaggi; Se piange, oime, la Donna del mio core
The Kassiopeia Quintet

Io tacero, ma nel silenzio mio; Invan, dunque, o crudele
Delitiae Musicae
Marco Longhini, director

O vos omnes; Exaudi, Deus, deprecationem meam; Venit lumen tuum
Odhecaton
Paolo da Col, director

Correte, amanti
Les Arts Florissants
William Christie, director.

04Sorcery And Sacred Songs20180329

Donald Macleod continues the extraordinary story of Carlo Gesualdo, Prince of Venosa.

Series exploring the life and works of a succession of composers

Donald Macleod continues the strange and sometimes baffling tale of Carlo Gesualdo. Frequently ill and afflicted with melancholy, he is caught up in an extraordinary scandal involving two lovers, and a potentially deadly charge of dabbling in witchcraft. Nor is his wife Leonora free from the danger of spells and enchantment. She even calls on the services of an exorcist priest to deliver the castle from malign forces at work. Despite this disturbing background, Gesualdo works on writing some of his finest and most moving sacred music.

Languisce alfin che de la vita parte; Merce grido piangendo(Fifth Book of Madrigals)
La Venexiana

Tu m'uccidi, o crudelel, Poeche l'avida sete; Ma tu, cagion (Fifth Book of Madrigals)
The Consort of Musicke
Anthony Rooley, director

Sana me Domine; Discedite a me omens; Da pacem Domine (Sacrae Cantiones, Book 2)
Vocal Consort Berlin
James Wood, director

Tenebrae Responses: Tristis est anima mea; Ecce vidimus eum; Tenebrae factae sunt; Animam meam dilectam tradidi
Hilliard Ensemble.

05The Gesualdo Legacy20180330

Donald Macleod concludes his account of the unusual life and music of Carlo Gesualdo.

Series exploring the life and works of a succession of composers

Donald Macleod concludes his account of the extraordinary life and music of Carlo Gesualdo, Prince of Venosa. By the time Gesualdo publishes his collection of Responsaries for Holy Week, and his final books of madrigals, he is a sick man, beset by various physical and mental infirmities. Nevertheless, he appears to be determined to secure his future reputation as a musician, and to secure the future of the house of Gesualdo. Estranged from his sole surviving heir from his first marriage, he is briefly reconciled with his son Emmanuele, only to be devastated when that son is killed in a hunting accident, leaving no direct male heir. With the effective extinction of the male line, Gesualdo loses hope and turns his face to the wall. His final publications, printed in his very own castle, secure his reputation as an ingenious, if somewhat unhinged, composer of madrigals and motets.

Moro lasso (Sixth Book of Madrigals)
La Compagnia del Madrigali
Glossa GCD922801

Sicut ovis ad occisionem; Ierusalem, surge; plange quasi virgo (Tenebrae Responses for Holy Saturday)
Tenebrae Consort
Nigel Short, director

Ardita zanzaretta; Gia Pansi; O dolce mio tesoro; Alme d'amor rubelle(Sixth Book of Madrigals)
Il Complesso Barocco
Alan Curtis, director

Astiterunt reges; Aestimatus sum; Sepulto domino (Tenebrae Responses for Holy Saturday)
Tenebrae Consort
Nigel Short, director

Tribularer si nescirem; O Crux benedicta
Odhecaton
Ensemble Mare Nostrum
Andrea de Carlo, director.