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Gesualdo, Erkki-Sven Tuur, Brett Dean

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Gesualdo, Erkki-Sven Tuur, Brett Dean
Gesualdo, Erkki-Sven Tuur, Brett Dean


This absorbing project finds Australian composer Brett Dean and Estonian composer Erkki-Sven Tüür drawing inspiration in very different ways from the music, life and times of Carlo Gesualdo and juxtaposes these reflections with Gesualdo's own music.

The music of Carlo Gesualdo, Prince of Venosa (1566-1613) has exerted a powerful influence on composers down the ages. His highly-charged, mannerist, idiosyncratic vocal music constitutes "a gallery of dramatically-lit portraits of human emotions with a heavy emphasis on the extremes of joy and despair" (to quote former Hilliard Ensemble singer Gordon Jones).

Brett Dean's 'Carlo' (composed 1997) begins with pure Gesualdo from the 6th Book of Madrigals, then gradually enters a very 20th century sound-world. Through use of both sampled and real-time voices as well as increasingly intense strings Dean paints an hallucinatory picture of the Prince of Verona's state of mind as he is driven toward his violent crimes of passion (he murdered his wife and her lover when he caught them in flagrante delicto).

Erkki Sven Tüür's 'L'Ombra di Gesualdo' references the Gesualdo motet 'O crux benedicta' from the Cantiones sacrae, and Gesualdo's piece is also heard in an arrangement for strings by Tüür. The programme is completed by Tüür's 'Psalmody', which is without a Gesualdo-inspired subtext but it too cross-references older and newer music, within the narrower time-frame of Tüür's own oeuvre.

Personnel: Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, Tõnu Kaljuste (conductor)


  1. Name
  2. Carlo Gesualdo da Venosa: Moro lasso from: Il Sesto Libro di Madrigali (1611), for string orchestra (arr Tonu Kaljuste)
  3. Brett Dean: Carlo (1997) for choir and string orchestra
  4. Carlo Gesualdo da Venosa: O Crux benedicta (1603) for string orchestra (arr Tonu Kaljuste)
  5. Erkki-Sven Tuur: Lombra della croce (2014) for string orchestra
  6. Erkki-Sven Tuur: Psalmody (1993/2011) for string orchestra
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