• CARUSO (Gold is the sweat of the sun) | David Fennessy

In the 1982 movie Fitzcarraldo, Werner Herzog's main character is obsessed with Enrico Caruso’s voice “silencing all the pain and all the voices of the primeval forest and drowning out all birdsong.” Caruso (Gold is the Sweat of the Sun) by Irish, Glasgow-based composer David Fennessy is an extended fantasy, “born of the delirium of the jungle,” as the German director would have it, and inspired by the extraordinary voice of the legendary Italian tenor.

What a strange sound it is when the heroic tenor reaches, then holds his highest note. A super-human feat. The voice becomes detached from the body, indeed it sounds barely human. A string stretched almost to the point of breaking, it reaches the threshold of the imaginable.

I wanted to stretch it further, loop it, pervert it even, until it became something surreal and clearly unnatural. Then to dive into that moment and bathe in it.
David Fennessy

The music in Caruso (Gold is the Sweat of the Sun) is almost completely made up of very short extracts from gramophone recordings of the Italian tenor opera singer Enrico Caruso (1873-1921) between 1903 and 1908, which are looped, stretched and combined to form a kind of ‘choir'. The electric guitar is a representation of an obsessive, creative force at the centre of it all - enveloped by, soothed by, railing against and sometimes overpowered by the relentless river of sound of the myriad of voices.

This piece is part of the album Caruso, that will be released on Unsounds records in April 2024.

Caruso (Gold is the sweat of the sun) (excerpt)

David Fennessy performs Caruso
David Fennessy performs Caruso (photo Alex Woodward)



With an eclectic but distinctive style, David Fennessy, originally a guitarist with a background in rock bands, has gained attention as a composer both in his native Ireland and in Scotland, where he was partly trained. He composed a trilogy of orchestral works inspired by the diaries of film director Werner Herzog during the making of the epic film Fitzcarraldo. He has stated that his works do not take up a consistent thread; rather, each one seeks to solve its own set of problems, yet they are linked by a distinctive ambition and intensity. (From the biography by James Manheim.)


David Fennessy - electric guitars, autoharp, frog guiros
Pete Dowling - samples, live electronics
Recorded and mixed by Pete Dowling
Mastered by Yannis Kyriakides, 2023
Recorded at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, August 2016
Published by Universal Edition, Vienna
Design by Isabelle Vigier, illustration based on: Enrico Caruso around 1918, glass negative, George Grantham Bain Collection (Library of Congress) Washington, D.C.
Copyright David Fennessy/Unsounds 2023


CARUSO (Gold is the sweat of the sun) | David Fennessy

  • Catalogue #: 80AUDL
  • Format: DL
  • Release date: 2023
  • Availability: In Stock
  • €3.00

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