GESUALDO CONSORT AMSTERDAM
Performers: Monika Mauch, soprano | Nele Gramss, soprano| Marnix De Cat, altus| Charles Daniels, tenor | Harry van Berne, tenor | Harry van der Kamp, bass & director
Estonia: Nargenfestival – Pärt days
Friday 10 September 2021, 18h00 | Tartu, Estonia – St. Paul’s Church
Saturday 11 September 2021, 19h00 | Tallinn, Estonia – St. John’s Church
Program: works by Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck, Carlo Gesualdo da Venosa and Arvo Pärt (pdf )
Arvo Pärt’s birthday concert will this year be arranged by the Amsterdam vocal ensemble Gesualdo Consort, which is named after the famous Italian nobleman of the late Renaissance, Carlo Gesualdo (1566–1613). As a composer, Count Gesualdo of Venosa was best known for his expressive work, full of extreme emotions. Similarly, the Gesualdo Consort, which has been active since the 1980s, has set itself the goal of achieving a special expression in its performances, looking to the past while looking to the future. This has inspired many contemporary composers during the ensemble’s activities. Gesualdo Consort, together with the ensemble’s founder and conductor Harry van der Kamp, has built the program for this year’s birthday concert on the works of three composers: Arvo Pärt’s vocal works are followed by the expressive music of Carlo Gesualdo and his contemporary Dutch composer Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck (1562–1621). At Arvo Pärt’s birthday concert, the performers will also pay homage to Sweelinck, who will celebrate 400 years of death this year and 460 years of birth next year.
Lithuania: Banchetto Musicale Early Music Festival 2021
Tuesday 14 September 2021 | Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania, Vilnius, Lithuania
Program: “Maria, mother of God” (pdf)
works by Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck, Carlo Gesualdo da Venosa
Sweelinck and Gesualdo have never met each other, but they must have known of each others existence: 1610 saw the Antwerpian publication of the collection Novi Frutti Musicali with madrigals they wrote some 15 years earlier. Today, here in Vilnius they appear again together under the approving eyes of Maria mother of God (Festival theme), both being Catholics by tradition, although Sweelinck also chose to compose the whole Calvinistic Psalter, merely (as he mentions in his foreword to his First Book of Psalms, 1604) “for its interesting musical material”: the psalmmelodies, recently composed by Matthias Greiter, Guillaume Franc, Louis Bourgeois and Maitre Pierre (Davantes). What he made out of this “interesting material” can be heard in Psalm 110 and Psalm 125 for 6 voices, both so called sacred Madrigals for their expressive text illustration. In fact he created an impressive complete collection of 150 psalmmadrigals, that does not show his Catholic roots nor his Calvinistic attitude, but all the more his masterly skill to vary on any existing (‘prius factus’) theme. Whenever possible he illustrates the psalmtexts with striking figures of harmony, rhythm and/or vocal tessitura, based on the material provided by the psalmmelody. In this respect he already delivered a perfect test with his arrangement of the famous Susanne un jour theme, originally composed by Didier Lupi II (c. 1520-na 1559). One is tempted to pronounce this the best possible version out of a bit less than 40 other versions by as many many different composers. Also his Petrarca-madrigal Chi vuol veder shows Sweelinck as a full professional, highly inspired master of the genre.
At the same time his colleague Gesualdo created music of a different nature. His madrigals show extreme chromaticism, causing unexpected harmonic changes, that are closely connected to the text. For this program Charles Daniels, one of our tenors, reconstructed 3 Cantiones Sacrae by Gesualdo, from his 2nd Book (1603) that until now survived 4 centuries without Sextus and Bassus. Gesualdo’s style is still relatively conservative, given the fact that he had already written his first 4 madrigalbooks (1594-1596) and probably most of his 5th and 6th book, that were to be published 1611. Gesualdo seems to have used the texts of his Cantiones Sacrae as a plea for forgiveness of his personal sin and guilt.
Sweelincks Maria motets belong mostly to the group of Nativity motets in his Cantiones Sacrae 1619. This collection was published by the Catholic Antwerpian editor Phalesius, who provided the motets with a basso seguente, for sheer commercial reasons: a capella singing had become more and more difficult, so to add some instrumental support would raise his selling figures. Since this goes beyond Sweelincks style (he never wrote continuo bass lines) these motets will be performed a capella, so that these genuine polyfonic flowers appear in full blossom.