This disc is a tour de force, a world premiere recording of stunning music splendidly performed. The unjustly obscure Antonio Maria Bononcini was appointed late in life to be maestro di cappella in Modena, a post which allowed him to pour his store of invention into two grand sacred works, a Mass and a Stabat Mater. Conductor Rinaldo Alessandrini engages deeply with the composer’s imagination, opening up his dense counterpoint and delicately binding together his vocal and obbligato lines. The musical rhetoric of the Concerto Italiano is spellbinding, particularly when band and singers heighten gestures to surge powerfully towards a passage’s final cadence. However heated their delivery becomes – and the Stabat Mater does sizzle – the artists never rush. This is particularly crucial for bringing out Bononcini’s modulations and textures, which, because they shift rapidly, need space to breathe.
The 'Stabat Mater' is a medieval poem describing the anguish of the Virgin Mary during the crucifixion written at the end of the 13th century by a Franciscan lay brother named Jacopone da Todi. It did not attract widespread attention from composers until the 18th century when Alessandro Scarlatti,his son Domenico, Vivaldi, Bononcini, Haydn and Pergolesi as well as many others set the poem to music. They were, no doubt, attracted to the emotional and dramatic nature of the poem, and most of the composers were commissioned by various individuals for non-liturgical devotions or concerts…(amazon.com)
This release is dedicated to some of the most famous settings of the Stabat mater, revealing the genre's varying treatment by composers over the centuries. From Palestrina's effective use of polyphony to Pergolesi's unusually sparse instrumental accompaniment, we move forward in time to contributions by Vivaldi and Haydn. These compositions rank among some of the most famous and affective music ever composed.
The legendary Italian composer Giovanni Battista Pergolesi was born 300 years ago, in 1710. To mark the anniversary, Naïve re-issues three renowned recordings to feature his choral music, in a specially-priced box set, headed by the Gramophone award-winning version of his Stabat Mater by Rinaldo Alessandrini and Concerto Italiano, considered one of the best ever recorded…
Also featured in the bargain “3 for the price of 1” set are other short pieces by Pergolesi, plus more by Alessandro Scarlatti and Leonardo Leo.
Certainly the somber beauty of Pergolesi's Stabat Mater for soprano, alto, and strings has a lot to do with its popularity. But it must be said that the story of the 26-year-old composer completing the work on his deathbed has always been too romantic for the public–or the music business–to resist. "The instant his death was known," wrote the famous 18th-century traveler Dr. Burney, "all Italy manifested an eager desire to hear and possess his productions." And so it's been ever since. In spite of the competition already on the market, it seems Decca just had to get its prize lyric soprano and hotshot young countertenor together to record the piece. –Matthew Westphal