Italian late Renaissance composer Carlo Gesualdo was born in Venosa, probably on 8 March 1566, but some sources suggest as early as 1560. His family had acquired the pricipality of Venosa in 1560. Little is known of his early life, but he seemed to be devoted entirely to music from an early age, playing the lute, guitar and harpsichord. He was Prince of Venosa and Count of Conza.
He is remembered for his chromatic musical language in expressive madrigals and sacred music, but also for his infamous double murder of his first wife and her lover (and allegedly, his second son by this first wife and also his father-in-law).
Following the murders, he fled to Venosa, but was able to remarry later, although the end of his life was spent in isolation and depression. He died in Gesualdo on 8 September 1613.
CD Spotlight. The Joy of Harpsichord - Margherita Porfido plays music from the south of Italy, heard by Giuseppe Pennisi. '... fundamental to the understanding of music between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries in southern Italy.'
Ensemble. Modern Madrigals in the Seventeenth Century - Giuseppe Pennisi listens to vocal music by Gesualdo and some of his contemporaries
Ensemble. Gesualdo and Friends - Giuseppe Pennisi listens to Les Arts Florissants
Ensemble. Very Sensual - Giuseppe Pennisi steps up to Caetani Castle to listen to madrigals by Gesualdo
Ensemble. A Serious Miscalculation - Music for choir and saxophone, heard by Mike Wheeler
Ensemble. Rock-solid Technique - Victoria, Gesualdo, Schütz, J S Bach, Poulenc and Knut Nystedt from cellist Deirdre Bencsik and the Derwent Singers impresses Mike Wheeler
CD Spotlight. Crystalline Beauty - Stravinsky choral music, highly recommended by Gerald Fenech. '... Stravinsky's blend of the mystic and mundane never ceases to astound.'
Ensemble. A Modern Tragedy - Salvatore Sciarrino's 'Luci mie traditrici', one of the most performed contemporary operas, finally reaches a major Italian opera house, by Giuseppe Pennisi
CD Spotlight. Truly Angelic - Passiontide music, recommended by Gerald Fenech. 'An edifying programme in excellent sound and presentation ...'
CD Spotlight. First Rate - Harp music from early baroque Naples, recommended by Gerald Fenech. 'Margret Köll's performances have an ethereal aura ...'
DVD Spotlight. Chamber Opera - Works by Sciarrino and Messiaen, reviewed by Giuseppe Pennisi. '... quite eclectic ...'
Ensemble. Compelling Settings - Lassus, Gesualdo, Purcell, Byrd, J S Bach, Bruckner, Brahms and Tucapský from the Sitwell Singers, reviewed by Mike Wheeler
Record Box. Passion and Intensity - Vocal music by Gesualdo, reviewed by Robert Hugill
Ensemble. Especially Dramatic - Premières by Sheriff and McCabe, reviewed by Malcolm Miller
Stylistic Variety - Passiontide music sung by the Derwent Singers, reviewed by Mike Wheeler