Carlo Gesualdo, Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina and Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck
Renaissance Suite:

Arranged by Kevin Thompson

4 tenor, 1 bass trombone

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Publisher: Cherry Classics Music
Date of Publication: 2020

Score and parts


This suite certainly covers the Renaissance waterfront, from the celestial light of Palestrina and Sweelinck to the macabre demi-jour of Gesualdo. It is comprised of five motets by composers of the 16th century - two each by G.P. da Palestrina (1525-1594) and Carlo Gesualdo (c.1560-1613), and one by Jan Sweelinck (1562-1621). They are arranged for four tenor trombones and bass trombone or tuba. The three upper parts are given in tenor clef. First part range is c-c²; second and third parts also top out on c²; fourth goes down to A-flat, and bass trombone to BB-flat.

There are neat symmetries here. Two settings in the major mode - an antiphon to be sung on Christmas Day and an offertorium for Lent, enclose three pieces in minor modes - two secular settings by Gesualdo, and a centrally placed anthem by Palestrina, based on The Song of Solomon.
  1. Hodie Christus Natus Est (Sweelinck) Ionian mode on E-flat (2.30)
  2. Itenco o miei sospiri (Gesualdo) Lydian mode on D-flat (3 min)
  3. Surge, propera amica mea (Palestrina) Aeolian mode on E-flat (2min)
  4. Io tacerò   (Gesualdo) Dorian mode on F (2min)
  5. Laudate Dominum (Palestrina) Ionian mode on D-flat (2.30)
The text of Gesualdo’s Io tacerò tells of suffering: “I will keep quiet, yet in my silence, my tears and sighs shall tell of my pain. But if I should die, death shall cry out for me once again.” This ‘suffering in silence’ called forth some of Gesualdo’s most extreme chromaticism; the 36 measures of this transcription require 60 accidentals (1.66/m), compared to 77 in the 73 measures of Itenco o miei sospiri (1.05/m), and to only 28 for the ‘celestial light’ of Hodie (125 measures) (0.2/m) by his almost exact contemporary, Sweelinck. Kevin Thompson was born in Vancouver, Canada, and studied at the Universities of Victoria and Toronto, and with Denis Wick in London. He currently plays in the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra.

Reviewer: Keith Davies Jones
Review Published October 11, 2020