Gesualdo: Madrigali, Libri quinto & sesto

Gesualdo: Madrigali, Libri quinto & sesto

Gesualdo, who murdered his first wife (and her lover), wrote music of harmonic complexity, centuries ahead of its time. Those two known facts form his reputation, and both are true, if slightly more nuanced. As a wealthy nobleman, Gesualdo didn’t need to compose for a living, so his music is arguably a pure mode of expression: he simply needed to make music. The 44 madrigals on this album, which concludes Les Arts Florissants’ survey, are works of obsession and intensity, and the six voices, directed by tenor Paul Agnew, are expressive and utterly at home in this musical language of extremes. It’s all recorded with great fidelity and impact.

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