Regarding Herzog's "Death for Five Voices" I can only offer a few comments. First, as an enthusiast of Herzog's work, I have to wonder at the somewhat slipshod nature of the production itself.
Secondly, there is a lot of credence given to unreliable sources -- an interest in local color over accuracy, but still very entertaining. I enjoyed the eccentricity of the production -- it seemed a good match to the subject matter.
Lastly, my main objection, beyond the luridness, is that the singing which should really represent Gesualdo at his finest is neither well-sung nor well-recorded. Any recording by a current early-music ensemble would be preferable to the shaky intonation (absolutely fatal to the impact of Gesualdo's music) and horrible balance (with the bass totally dominating the ensemble). Gesualdo's daring ideas live or die on the basis of fine performance. Here, Herzog (or more accurately, the vocal ensembles which participated) lets us down completely.
And finally, the "background music" is completely out-of-kilter with the entire idea. Would it not have made sense to at least use some sort of relevant music of the period to connect and overlay the scenes?
I'm grateful to have seen this production, as it filled in gaps in my understanding of one of the most interesting musical figures of the period, but I'm afraid that the flaws and miscalculations weigh heavily against its value.
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