Gesualdo, Madrigals, Book 2,
Delitiæ Musicæ, M. Longhini
(released on November 16, 2010)
Naxos 8.570549 | 57'12"
S. Giora Shoham, Art, Crime, and Madness: Gesualdo, Caravaggio, Genet, Van Gogh, Artaud
Gesualdo's life was notorious enough to have merited more than one biographical opera, by Alfred Schnittke and Marc-André Dalbavie, among others. His adventurous chromatic harmony fascinated Stravinsky and other composers, like Peter Maxwell Davies, in search of atonal solutions to modern harmonic crisis. He wrote much of the really daring music after he murdered his first wife, discovered in flagrante delicto with her lover, when Gesualdo secluded himself in one of his palaces. S. Giora Shoham, author of the recent book Art, Crime, and Madness: Gesualdo, Caravaggio, Genet, Van Gogh, Artaud, goes so far as to suggest that the composer's sexual perversion, especially an inclination toward sado-masochism, is behind the choice of poetry (Tasso, who stayed with Gesualdo on several visits, may even have written poetry specifically aimed at the prince's proclivities) and the musical extremes that accompany it. Gesualdo used many of the same expressive techniques in his sacred music.
Longhini's Volume 2 closes with two bonus instrumental tracks: the Canzon francese del Principe on a very fragile-sounding clavichord (the unequal temperament only adding to the hair-raising quality of the chromatic vagaries), and the Gagliarda del Principe di Venosa played by a consort of four lutes.