Collegium Vocale Gent

Philippe Herreweghe, conductor
Gesualdo da Venosa

The fifth book of madrigals by Don Carlo Gesualdo da Venosa is presented by the Collegium Vocale Gent under the direction of Philippe Herreweghe. With its unique expressiveness, the music of the eccentric composer-prince continues to fascinate immensely to this day.

Petrus Christus, Portrait of a Young Woman, c. 1470, detail

Petrus Christus, Portrait of a Young Woman, c. 1470, detail

© public domain

Past Dates

Count – patron – musical dilettante – expressive composer – double murderer: these catchwords describe one of the most enigmatic musical personalities of the late 16th century: Don Carlo Gesualdo, the Count of Consa and Prince of Venosa. His biography is perfectly unusual for a nobleman of that time, as he devoted himself to the arts far beyond measure and created compositions in a style that was as unique as it was anachronistic. Whereas the music of 1600 was undergoing epochal transformation, the Prince of Venosa continued to observe the old, polyphonic style, albeit pushing the rules of this style to the very limits. As is unmistakable from his madrigals, he very closely approached the principles of the new, baroque style in terms of expressivity, interpretation of words, and emotional richness. Extraordinary harmonies, surprising changes of key and mode, and the finest attention to the poetic source create an unmistakable expressiveness. One of Gesualdo's greatest admirers in the 20th century was Igor Stravinsky, who in 1960 dedicated the “Monumentum pro Gesualdo” to him, an instrumental arrangement of three of Gesualdo’s madrigals. In a 1968 contribution, Stravinsky stated, “One would require permanent madrigal ensembles to preserve Gesualdo's music.” Two years later, Philippe Herreweghe granted him this wish by founding his Collegium Vocale Gent. Gesualdo’s vocal works have been consistently performed at the highest level by this ensemble ever since.

Concert Programme

Pietro Paolo Melli (1579 – ca. 1629)
Il Carlino – Capriccio Cromatico (instr.)

Don Carlo Gesualdo da Venosa (1560 – 1613)
Madrigali a cinque voci. Libro quinto (1611)
I Gioite voi col canto
II S’io non miro non moro
III Itene, o miei sospiri
IV Dolcissima mia vita

Alessandro Piccinini (1566 – ca. 1638)
Ricercare Primo (instr.)

Don Carlo Gesualdo da Venosa
Madrigali a cinque voci. Libro quinto
V O dolorosa goia
VI Qual for a, donna
VII Felicissimo sonno

Girolamo Kapsberger (1580 – 1651)
Toccata Cromatica III & VI (instr.)
Se vi duol il mio duolo
Occhi del mio cor vita
Languisce al fin
Mercè grido piangendo

Don Carlo Gesualdo da Venosa
Madrigali a cinque voci. Libro quinto
VIII Se vi duol il mio duolo
IX Occhi del mio cor vita
X Languisce al fin
XI Mercè grido piangendo

Girolamo Kapsberger
Toccata I (instr.)
Asciugate I begli occhi
Tu m’uccidi, o crudele
O tenebroso giorno
T’amo, mia vita

Don Carlo Gesualdo da Venosa
Madrigali a cinque voci. Libro quinto
XIV Asciugate I begli occhi
XV Tu m’uccidi, o crudele
XIX O tenebroso giorno
XXI T’amo, mia vita


Collegium Vocale Gent

Miriam Allan soprano
Barbora Kabátková mezzo soprano
Marine Fribourg alto/countertenor
Benedict Hymas tenor I
Tore Tom Denys tenor II
Jimmy Holliday bass
Thomas Boysen chitarrone

Philippe Herreweghe conductor

The concerts dedicated to Igor Stravinsky and Carlo Gesualdo on 31 August, 6, 8, 13 and 15 September are funded by means of the Capital City Cultural Fund and the Aventis Foundation.

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