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Durham University

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Rave reviews for new Gesualdo disc (James Weeks - EXAUDI)

(1 November 2019)

The latest recording by vocal ensemble EXAUDI, which is directed by Dr James Weeks, has been released on the German label Winter&Winter to universal critical acclaim. Departing from EXAUDI’s core contemporary and experimental repertoire, the new disc is a recital of 18 madrigals from the Fifth and Sixth Books of Carlo Gesualdo (1566-1613), presented in fresh new readings that privilege the music’s extreme expressive vision.

Writing in The Observer, Fiona Maddocks called the disc ‘a stunner…a superb new disc. [EXAUDI] sing with impeccable definition and accuracy, letting each dissonance burn and scorch until the ear longs for release.’

Comparing both EXAUDI’s and Les Arts Florissants’ new releases of Gesualdo madrigals, Ivan Hewett in The Daily Telegraph awarded EXAUDI 5 stars, noting that ‘EXAUDI…focus more on the melodic lines and the exquisitely agonising harmonies of his later, crazily intense madrigals – and yet they capture certain feelings that other groups miss, like the yearning for peace that seems to come over the music at times, as if all the passion is just too much. Both discs are wonderful, but it’s the emotional wisdom as well as the beauty of EXAUDI’s disc that gives it the edge.’

Former Durham professor Fabrice Fitch, writing for Gramophone, praised the ensemble’s ‘finely etched, monumental and closely considered’ Gesualdo, concluding that ‘these are deeply intelligent and attractive performances.’ And Dominy Clements, for MusicWeb International, considered that ‘if you are keen on Gesualdo’s Madrigals then you owe it to yourself to acquire this recording.’

Gesualdo Madrigali (Winter&Winter, 2019) can be ordered from online retailers or direct from EXAUDI at www.exaudi.org.uk.