25.11.13 19:30, Union Chapel, Islington, London; £12 - £30


I Fagiolini Charitable Trust presents renaissance music of sweet and strange beauty
Gesualdo: Madrigals from Books 4, 5 and 6
Lassus: Timor et tremor, Monteverdi Rimante in pace, Ch’io t’ami
D’India: Strange harmony of love
Tomkins & Weelkes: English mannerism
Other works by De Wert, Luzzaschi, Fontanelli, Marenzio

In Gesualdo’s 400th anniversary year, this concert offers his most powerful madrigals given context by similarly minded avant-gardists of the time, offering a quite extraordinary evening of musical mannerism.

It’s time to lay to rest to the lazy ‘truth’ that Gesualdo killed his wife, then lamented this in tortured music. Murdering your wife as a punishment for adultery was acceptable behaviour in 16th century Italy and Gesualdo’s music focusses less on guilt and more on betrayal. (Similarly the ‘whipping at stool’ he suffered was a medical cure on a par with being prescribed leeches – Blackadder fans will sympathise). Rather, the avant-garde nature of his music developed from a prolonged stay at the home of Italy’s hothouse of musical modernism, the court of Ferrara. In that highly experimental ethos and surrounded by a brilliant vocal ensemble, Gesualdo took the late madrigal to undreamt-of extremes. His final works sound closer to Brahms or even Wagner, though in the dying embers of the Renaissance, what he meant by this has been misunderstood.

“Is this great music, or merely weird?” John Milsom, Gramophone, on Gesualdo

“If there’s a more enterprisingly theatrical vocal group than this one, I’ve yet to encounter it…” The Telegraph


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