martedì 21 ottobre 2014

Review of Madrigals For Five Voices: Integral (Libro I – Libro VI), Carlo Gesualdo by Noël Akchoté, Drag City, 2014

What an incredible story behind a person like Gesualdo da Venosa. Composer, singer, great hunter, arts protector, noble and murderess. His “character” survived to history, today he would be the subject of a Hollywood movie, maybe he would appear on talk shows or reality tv. Other times, an other society, in which life was worth less than now, and where matters were regulated by the blaze of a sword. But if the man is vile matter whose flesh is corrupted, the artist and his art continue to live in our time, inspiring other artists and other events. This is his story of this famous composer. Renowned not only for his great qualities as a composer and musical innovator, but also for the premeditated murder of his wife and her lover. At twenty he married his cousin Maria D`Avalos, four years older than him, who gave him a son. Totally absorbed by his music and his passion for hunting, however, he neglected his wife, who had a reckless love affair with Fabrizio Carafa, Duke of Andria, married and father of four children. Wounded in honor, Gesualdo made his bloody revenge: October 16, 1590 he said he would leave for a two days hunting, except back in the night and catch the two lovers in the act of adultery in his bedroom and killed them both. To escape the revenge of Carafa, he fled from Naples refuge in his castle of Gesualdo, where he lived for seventeen years, transforming the castle into a sumptuous place, a friendly home to the most famous musicians and great personalities like Torquato Tasso. The French guitarist Noël Akchoté not new to this type of rework, decided in 2011 to reinterpret his sublime madrigals for five guitars, bringing a breath of freshness and newness to these compositions from the eternal character. In this enterprise Akchoté is accompanied by four other guitarists: David Grubs, Adam Levy, Doug Wamblew and Julien Desprez. The solution adopted by Akchoté is to leave as much as possible intact the melodies of the polyphonic madrigals by Gesualdo, without arranging the scores rather than adapting the guitar quintet with open tunings not only to stay in the pitch range defined by the original compositions but to permit the guitars to play as possible freeing the sustain of their strings. In the booklet that accompanies the CD, which has been produced now by Drag City label, in spite of these pieces are available in mp3 format since 2011 Akchoté also explains the choice of playing as much as possible in the first position in the instrument leaving notes flowing freely, also adopting a warmer sound. The result is a haunting cd. Its beauty is twofold, on the one hand the revival of this music in a different key suave, on the other the extreme fineness and cleanliness of the tone of these electric guitars. A simply sublime record. I hope that the other works of Akchoté based on the music of Orlande de Lassus, Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, Guillaume de Machaut and John Cage will soon find some other nice recording labels.

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