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The result — albeit courtesy of James Wood — is oil.

Gesualdo’s richness is apparent in its own right and its own ways. Of these the best known is the collection for Holy Week, Responsoria. Sentiments are invariably justified. Wood’s work has more than paid off. There is liher a variety in atmosphere and tenor of the singing: Nothing is superfluous, nothing jars, nothing is expedited other than judiciously by Gesualdo; and with great care.

Classical Net Review – Gesualdo – Sacrae Cantiones Liber secundus

Note is placed meticulously against note, consonant against consonant, vowel against vowel. This work took stylistic characteristics from Gesualdo’s sacred music as well as the other two collections of his sacred music to serve as models in what must have been a difficult analysis.

Recommended on all counts. You’re there with the singers, at their sides as each new idea emerges and is developed; yet they’re singing not for you, but for on behalf of, almost the sentiments with which Gesualdo is so intensely occupied.

Out of a perfect blend between emotional engagement and detachment the sublime beauty of Gesualdo’s music emerges not unnoticed, but never ostentatiously pressed. Their care, precision and immaculate articulation of Gesualdo’s “chewy” and mellow sounds are directed into the music, not to any awareness of the act of reconstruction.


It’s these colors, delights, pointedness, clarity and fusion of personal insights into life, love, suffering and hope with purely aural weave that Wood has surely aimed to re create. As said, the all-important supporting documentation is informative, though scarcely overwhelming; French, Latin, German and English versions of the texts are simply reproduced.

Wood has a precise meaning for “rules”: Beauty stands in relaxed yet unambivalent fashion next to decided and pungent originality in the melodies, textures and harmonies. He moved the reconstruction of any one work along by rebuilding, he believes, as would Gesualdo — from its internal musical logic.

Home News Contacts Copyright. Fortunately Wood was aided by consistencies and similarities which emerged between Gesualdo’s works: Lier same holds true consistently throughout the Libee. Interestingly, Gesualdo emerges even further than the shadows as a more original, imaginative and innovative composer of music of great beauty and persuasion.

Sentiment is privileged; but so are restraint and reflection.

Those with an affection for the apotheosis of the Italian madrigal or even a passing interest in the musicology behind this work and CD won’t want to miss it. Renaissance compositions of this type were usually written and published in separate parts for voices. There’s the precision of the lithograph with the richness of the watercolor. Probably driven as much by a determination not to let the mythology which has afflicted Gesualdo for instance, his status as renown murderer, his experimentalism, and seemingly wayward chromaticism inform his efforts as by his admiration for Gesualdo, the composer James Wood, also Director of the Vocalconsort Berlin,spent three years of his musicological life from reconstructing the Liber Secundus as a contribution to the four hundredth anniversary of the composer’s death this year.

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CD Review Carlo Gesualdo. That Wood is a composer himself has surely helped to make the results as strong and reliable as they are; as has input from Andrew Parrott, which Wood explicitly acknowledges.

Liber Cantiones : Zaubersprüche des Schwarzen Auges

Gesualdo’s “tendencies became rules” for Wood as explained in the latter’s excellent and informative liner libre for this CD from Harmonia Mundi and his direction became clearer. Lovers of Gesualdo should not hesitate. And in fact both the first and second books both published in bore the name Liber primus. And he — and the 16 singers variously distributed across the 22 items on the CD of Vocalconsort Berlin — have succeeded with amazing grace and decisiveness.

The music is clearly Gesualdo’s: The acoustic is as close and intimate without being cloying as it should be. Nothing is hurried; nothing overly dramatic; it never has to be. Carlo Gesualdo wrote less sacred than secular music: No lover of Gesualdo should overlook this set.

It can be said that these are very convincing and whole reconstructions.