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This libre a well-produced CD by Harmonia Mundi. Out of a perfect blend between emotional engagement and detachment the sublime beauty of Gesualdo’s music emerges not unnoticed, but never ostentatiously pressed.

Liber Cantiones : Zaubersprüche des Schwarzen Auges

It can be said that these are very convincing and whole reconstructions. The architecture of each piece is defined and constructed in the way that the elaborate and striking churches of his time were.

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. The same holds true consistently throughout the CD.

Fortunately Wood was aided by consistencies and similarities which emerged between Gesualdo’s works: The music is clearly Gesualdo’s: 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. The acoustic libed as close and intimate without being cloying as it should be. Beauty stands in relaxed yet unambivalent fashion next to decided and pungent originality in the melodies, textures and harmonies.


Wood has a precise meaning for “rules”: Wood’s work has more than paid off. And in fact both the first and second books both published in bore the name Liber primus.

Recommended cantiiones all counts. Sentiments are invariably justified.

Liber Cantiones : Thomas Römer :

Carlo Gesualdo wrote less sacred than secular music: The result — albeit courtesy of James Wood — is oil. Home News Contacts Copyright. Of these the best known is the collection for Holy Week, Responsoria. The rest of the performance of the perfectly-proportioned piece shows unambiguously why we should rejoice; but without lbier making too much of the gusto, of lbier forward and upward sentiment, without trying mere rousing sounds for their own sake.

CD Review Carlo Gesualdo. Nothing is superfluous, nothing jars, nothing is expedited other than judiciously by Gesualdo; and with great care. Gesualdo’s “tendencies became rules” for Canfiones as explained in the latter’s excellent and informative liner notes for this CD from Harmonia Mundi and his direction became clearer. Renaissance compositions of this type were usually written and published in separate parts for voices.

Nothing is hurried; nothing overly dramatic; it never has to be. No lover of Gesualdo should overlook this set.

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. Note is placed meticulously against note, consonant against consonant, vowel against vowel.


C01 – Liber Cantiones.pdf (4.94 MB)

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.

So when the Bassus and Sextus parts of the second of the two sets to be published were lost, the collection was apparently effectively useless and unperformable.

Interestingly, Gesualdo emerges even further than the shadows as a more original, imaginative and innovative composer of music of great beauty and persuasion. He moved the reconstruction of any one work along by rebuilding, he believes, as would Gesualdo — from its internal musical logic.

Lovers of Gesualdo should not hesitate. As said, the all-important supporting documentation is informative, though scarcely llber French, Latin, German and English versions of the texts are simply reproduced. There’s the precision of the lithograph with the richness of the watercolor.