Thursday, 6 December 2007

23. Carlo Gesualdo - Madrigals (1594 - 1611)


Title: Gesualdo - Quarto Libro di Madrigali
Performer: La Venexiana
Director: Claudio Cavina
Year: 2000
Length: 1 hour 7 minutes


Comparing these Madrigals to those by Monteverdi you can see a tremendous difference, like the difference between the day and the night. While Monteverdi's were light airy and very fun, Gesualdo's are a Renaissance Goth's wet dream. This is some really down beat stuff, Gesualdo was a tormented guy.

The good thing about them is the fact that they sound like nothing else at the time, these are love songs obsessed with death, parting, depression and the music reflects it tremendously, it is at times ghostly, mournful, momentarily happy only for soaring voices to break down.

This is clearly music made by a man racked with grief and guilt, a guy who not long before writing this had killed his wife and her lover, dressed her lover in her clothes to humiliate him before killing him and according to legend killed his son in his crib because he doubted his parentage and then killed his father in law because he had come to avenge his daughter. Now he is in hiding writing love songs about death. The music sounds truly sad, tormented and beautiful.

The recording a a beautiful thing from Book 4 of Madrigals, with a couple of other Gesualdo Madrigals in the middle.

Murdering fuck-heads what wonderful noises they make.

Final Grade



From Wikipedia:

In 1586 Gesualdo married his first cousin, Donna Maria d'Avalos, the daughter of the Marquis of Pescara. Two years later she began to have a love affair with Fabrizio Carafa, the Duke of Andria; evidently she was able to keep it secret from her husband for almost two years, even though the existence of the affair was well-known elsewhere. Finally, on October 16, 1590, at the Palazzo San Severo in Naples, when Gesualdo had allegedly gone away on a hunting trip, the two lovers took insufficient precaution at last (Gesualdo had arranged with his servants to have the locks of his palace copied in wood so that he could gain entrance if locked), and he returned to the palace, caught them in flagrante delicto and brutally murdered them both in their bed; afterwards he left their mutilated bodies in front of the palace for all to see. Being a nobleman he was immune to prosecution, but not to revenge, so he fled to his castle at Gesualdo where he would be safe from any of the relatives of either his wife or her lover.

Details on the murders are not lacking, because the depositions of witnesses to the magistrates have survived in full. While they disagree on some details, they agree on the principal points, and it is apparent that Gesualdo had help from his servants, who may have done most of the killing; however Gesualdo certainly stabbed Maria multiple times, shouting as he did, "she's not dead yet!" The Duke of Andria was found slaughtered by numerous deep sword wounds, as well as by a shot through the head; when he was found, he was dressed in women's clothing (specifically, Maria's night dress). His own clothing was found piled up by the bedside, unbloodied. One suggested explanation for this is that Gesualdo first murdered his wife, and after this turned his attentions to the Duke, forcing him to don his lover's clothing, most probably to humiliate him.

The murders were widely publicized, including in verse by poets such as Tasso and an entire flock of Neapolitan poets, eager to capitalize on the sensation; the salacious details of the murders were broadcast in print; but nothing was done to apprehend the Prince of Venosa. The police report from the scene makes for shocking reading even after more than 400 years.

Accounts on events after the murders differ. According to some contemporary sources, Gesualdo also murdered his second son by Maria, who was an infant, after looking into his eyes and doubting his paternity (according to contemporary sources he "swung the infant around in his cradle until the breath left his body"); another source indicates that he murdered his father-in-law as well, after the man had come seeking revenge. Gesualdo had employed a company of men-at-arms to ward off just such an event. However, contemporary documentation from official sources for either of these alleged murders is lacking.

Deh, Come Invan Sospiro from Book 6:

1 comment:


"Gesualdo - Tod Für Fünf stimmen" (Gesualdo - muerte para cinco voces) de Werner Herzog [1993]