Friday, April 25, 2014

[live] The Gaudete Singers salute the magic of Carlo Gesualdo

I went to this concert by the Gaudete Singers, a small choral group that one of my pals is in. This was taking place in St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin and programme was to be a number of pieces by Carlo Gesualdo with some organ interludes by Johann Sebastian Bach. The Gesualdo pieces (composed) in 1611 or thereabouts) were all of a religious theme. Gesualdo's music has a reputation for being a bit on the odd side, accidentally pioneering techniques that would not reappear until the 20th century. From looking at the programme notes, it seems that this can be characterised as extreme chromaticism, but I am a bit pig ignorant when it comes to musicology so I do not really have much sense of what that means.

I can however say two things about the music in this performance. First of all, I like it. Secondly, it did not sound that weird to me (even though a famous musicologist John Milsom began his review of a CD release of these pieces with the words "Is this great music , or merely weird?"). I do not know what that means - maybe I have listened to so much weirdo music in my life that nothing sounds that unusual anymore.

So all in all, the Gesualdo choral pieces were fascinating and most enjoyable to listen to, as were the two Bach organ interludes. But it would be remiss of me not to conclude by describing the colourful life of Carlo Gesualdo. He was an amateur composer, as his status as a member of the Neapolitan nobility meant that he did not have to earn a crust from music. Aside from these musical pieces, he is best known for murdering his wife and her lover when he discovered them in flagrante delicto. He is also accused of murdering one of his sons and his father-in-law, who had attempted to avenge the first murder. In the end he fell into a deep melancholia and near insanity and seems to have retired to live the life of a gothic recluse in an isolated country castle, from where he published the pieces performed tonight.

The other odd thing about the concert was that someone's phone went off and then rang and rang and rang, with its owner being either unable or unwilling to decline the call. For all that the young folk are the ones seen as being so wedded to their phones that they cannot envisage turning them off, I increasingly have come to realise that it is older middle class people who let their phones ring inappropriately. For whatever reason they seem to find the idea of a turned off phone a concept completely impossible to contemplate.

Image source (Wikipedia)

Carlo Gesualdo: composer or crazed psychopath? (Guardian)

The Gaudete Singers

An inuit panda production

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