Magazine article Gramophone

Gesualdo: Responsoria et Alia Ad Officium

Magazine article Gramophone

Gesualdo: Responsoria et Alia Ad Officium

Article excerpt

Gesualdo

Responsoria et alia ad Officium

Hebdomadae Sanctae spectantia

Collegium Vocale, Ghent / Philippe Herreweghe

PHI [M] [2] PHI010 (127' * DDD * T/t)

Given the impact of the first complete recording Gesualdo's Responsories by the Hilliard Ensemble for ECM over 20 years ago, it's surprising that they've not more often been attempted as a set; but the quatercentenary of the composer's death is as good an opportunity as any. To the music's overt drama Philippe Herreweghe responds with a typically more measured, controlled performance, so one may say that the performance is cooler than the music. (In this respect as in others, the Collegium Vocale Gent offer a decided alternative to the Hilliards.) Dynamic contrasts are more often achieved by the full choir than in reduced sections, and the composer's trademark chromaticisms are rather played down. The quality of understatement found in this ensemble's recent Victoria Requiem (11/12) is here also, albeit to a degree: the 'cut glass' quality I noted there is rougher-edged, for example where the transitions between slow and fast-moving passages are more marked and harder to negotiate. That said, other moments of impressive co-ordination (as at the word 'toluntur' in 'Ecce quomodo moritur iustus') have the air of a parade-ground manoeuvre. …

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