Gesualdo: Tenebrae Responsoria

Gesualdo: Tenebrae Responsoria
Composer Carlo Gesualdo Da Venosa
Artist Ensemble Arte Musica
Francesco Cera conductor
Format 1 CD
Cat. number 94804
EAN code 5028421948041
Release May 2014

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About this release

From a musical point of view, Carlo Gesualdo, Prince of Venosa, was a lutenist and composer. His madrigals used an intense chromaticism that was a distinctive part of his style and which did not appear again until the late 19th century. However, he is perhaps best known for his murderous past; his discovery, in 1590, that his wife had been having a two-year affair had deadly consequences for both the woman and her lover. Being a nobleman, Gesualdo was, of course, immune from prosecution.

The Tenebrae Responsoria was written for Christian liturgical use in Holy Week. The text is derived from entire sections of the Passion (notably according to St Matthew) and psalm verses. Distinctive qualities of the work are the Gregorian chant, frequently used in Gesualdo’s time, which is prevalent in the work, acting as a uniting force for the roles of the Evangelist, Jesus and other characters. The work, intended to evoke the emotions of the events described, combines a rich spirituality with more secular, madrigalesque aspects, emitting an intense energy and combining contrasting styles and harmonies. There is remarkable use of word painting throughout, such as the sinister harmony used to depict the elders that wish to kill Jesus, and the slow modulations that represent the desolation of Jesus as he speaks his final words.

Francesco Cera is one of Italy’s foremost interpreters of early music. He has performed as an organist and harpsichordist throughout Europe, and regularly gives masterclasses on his specialist subject, Italian organ music. Here he directs Ensemble Arte Musica, a group dedicated to Italian cantata repertoire of the 18th century and the works of Gesualdo.

Other information:
- Recorded in 2013.
- Don Carlo Gesualdo was an Italian nobleman, remembered for two particular feats: one is the murder of his wife and her lover, the other is his extraordinary music, in which he stretches tonality and chromatism to its limits, creating a haunting and sometimes even sinister atmosphere, foreshadowing 20th century music (he was one of Stravinsky’s favourite composers).
- The Tenebrae Responsoria were part of the Liturgy for the Holy week, and are embedded in the story of The Passion of Christ, making use of texts from the St Matthew gospel and the Psalms. It is a moving and highly dramatic work, in which Gesualdo makes frequent use of “tone painting”, the musical depiction of human emotions, like weeping and crying, desolation and dejection.
- Superb performances by Ensemble Arte Musica, led by Francesco Cera, specialist in this field.
- Booklet contains liner notes and the sung texts, including English translations.

Track list

Disk 1

  1. Tenebrae Responsoria: I. Introduction
  2. Tenebrae Responsoria: II. Seniores populi
  3. Tenebrae Responsoria: III. Judas Agrees to betray Jesus
  4. Tenebrae Responsoria: IV. Amicus meus
  5. Tenebrae Responsoria: V. Jesus Asks to Prepare the Last Supper
  6. Tenebrae Responsoria: VI. Unus ex discipulis
  7. Tenebrae Responsoria: VII. The Last Supper
  8. Tenebrae Responsoria: VIII. In monte Oliveti
  9. Tenebrae Responsoria: IX. Jesus Arrested
  10. Tenebrae Responsoria: X. Jesum tradidit impius
  11. Tenebrae Responsoria: XI. Jesus Before the Sanhedrin - Peter Disowns Jesus
  12. Tenebrae Responsoria: XII. Plange quasi virgo
  13. Tenebrae Responsoria: XIII. Judas Hangs Himself; Jesus Before Pilate
  14. Tenebrae Responsoria: XIV. Sicut ovis ad occisionem
  15. Tenebrae Responsoria: XV. Jesus Before Pilate
  16. Tenebrae Responsoria: XVI. Omnes amici mei
  17. Tenebrae Responsoria: XVII. The Crucifixion of Jesus
  18. Tenebrae Responsoria: XVIII. Tenebrae factae sunt
  19. Tenebrae Responsoria: XIX. Velum templi scissum est
  20. Tenebrae Responsoria: XX. The Centurion - Burial of Jesus
  21. Tenebrae Responsoria: XXI. Sepulto Domino