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.
"Despite the public context – the story is played out against the backdrop of the Olympic Games – this is a drama which focuses on the personal predicaments of the principal characters, each of whom faces an interesting conflict between head and heart somewhere along the line. This is more apparent from Metastasio's words than from Vivaldi's music, to be honest, but that isn't to say that the composer has been unresponsive. The most effective and intimate moments occur in the recitatives, which are fluidly conversational and full of realistic interruptions, questions and exclamations, all of which Vivaldi handles with considerable dramatic skill. Rinaldo Alessandrini's direction is typically unfussy and to the point, ever alert to the music's dramatic intent but without imposing himself on it unduly. The finest vocal performances come from Sara Mingardo, Roberta Invernizzi and Sonia Prina, but in truth no one is a weak link. The recitatives are effectively done, the arias thrown off with dash and aplomb, and everyone sounds as if they believe in the work.” (The Gramophone)
As a composer Pergolesi’s productive career began at the age of twenty, and by twenty-six (March 1736) he had died of tuberculosis. During his lifetime Pergolesi’s fame was restricted, in the main, to Rome and Naples, yet after his death, his reputation eclipsed most other composers in the second half of the eighteenth century. The whole of Europe developed an increasing curiosity for his compositions. His posthumous celebrity status was such a magnet in the music world that, hoping to reap large financial profits, publishers and opera directors alike attributed his name to hundreds of vocal and instrumental works by lesser-known composers. Following Pergolesi’s death the Stabat Mater became one of the most celebrated and frequently printed works of the 18th century.
Giovanni Battista Pergolesi had a tragically short career, living just 26 years, and producing most of his mature works over a period of about five years. This album includes three of the composer's most representative pieces. The most familiar is the 40-minute Stabat mater for soprano, alto, and orchestra, which was the most frequently published composition of the 18th century. This version, featuring soprano Rachel Harnisch and contralto Sara Mingardo, makes a splendid introduction to the work and should be of interest to anyone who loves this poignant music. …
by Stephen Eddins