A Neapolitan Stabat Mater

A Neapolitan Stabat Mater
A new perspective from G B Pergolesi’s masterpiece
Le Concert de l’Hostel Dieu, Franck-Emmanuel Comte
Chronos ICSM 012.


This is a recording of Pergolesi’s famed Stabat Mater, but not quite as you may know it. Composed in 1736 for the Neapolitan  Confraternita dei Cavalieri di San Luigi di Palazzo, the Stabat Mater was said to have been completed (along with a companion Salve Regina) moments before Pergolesi died of tuberculosis in a nearby monastery. Despite criticism of its operatic style, it’s fame quickly spread, with several composers, including Bach, making arrangements of it. This recording by Le Concert de l’Hostel Dieu is based on an unpublished score found in the library of the Académie du Concert in Lyon, France, now in the Lyon municipal library. Alongside some minor modifications in the instrumental parts, the key departures from the usual text are that the second solo voice is a baritone rather than an alto, presumably because of the lack of a castrati singer, and the setting of O quam tristis is for five voices. That, on its own, would be of sufficient interest, but this recording also inserts traditional Neapolitan music including polyphonic versions of the Stabat Mater and Miserere, some (very) secular songs (Donna Isabella, La Carpinese) and two tarantellas.  Continue reading

Giovanni Battista Pergolesi

Giovanni Battista Pergolesi
Coro e Orchestra Ghislieri, Giulio Prandi
Marlis Petersen, Marta Fumagalli
Arcana A444, 71’18
Arcana_A444_PERGOLESI_Coro e Orchestra Ghislieri_Giulio Prandi

Messa in Re maggiore;  Mottetto: “Dignas laudes resonemus”

Whether you assume that Pergolesi only wrote one work or are an aficionado, this CD of two previously unrecorded pieces (the Messa in Re maggiore and the operatic “Dignas laudes resonemus”) is an important one. The editions used are the outcome of recent musicological research by the Centro Studi Pergolesi in Milan. The Messa in Re maggiore is performed in the second of two surviving versions, dating from 1733/4, incidentally, the same year as the first version of Bach’s B minor Mass. It is in the two-movement Neapolitan form of Kyrie and Gloria. It is a joyful work, with an almost skittish concluding Amen. Pergolesi’s use of vocal and orchestral colour and texture can range from the utmost delicacy to thundering drama, as exemplified in the dramatic opening of the Messa in Re maggiore. The dark opening to the Qui tollis is followed by a subdued section that seems to foreshadow the Sturm und drang of the later Hadyn generation. These two works explore Pergolesi’ theatrical style of writing, in the Neapolitan tradition.  Continue reading

Fitzwilliam & Friends: Purcell + Pergolesi +

Fitzwilliam & Friends: Purcell + Pergolesi +
Fitzwilliam String Quartet, Julia Doyle, Clare Wilkinson
Kings Place. 29 September 2016

Music by Purcell, Marcus Barcham Stevens, Jackson Hill, Rachel Stott, and Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater

Image result for julia doyle sopranoKings Place’s 2016 ‘Baroque Unwrapped’ series continued with a fascinating combination of musical styles performed by the period instrument Fitzwilliam String Quartet together with their ‘Friends’, soprano Julia Doyle (pictured) and mezzo Clare Wilkinson, two of the finest singers around, with Laurence Cummings, harpsichord and organ. They opened collectively with three groups of pieces selected from Purcell’s Fairy Queen, King Arthur, and Dido and Aeneas. Julia Doyle and Clare Wilkinson were outstanding soloists in piece such as If Love’s a Sweet Passion’, The Plaint, Fairest Isle and Dido’s Lament. I was particularly impressed with Julia Doyle’s beautiful singing and her excellent use of ornaments: she is one of the few singers who can manage a proper trill, rather than just relying on vibrato.

With the departure of the ‘friends’, the Fitzwilliam Quartet continued with Purcell’s Fantazia 7 followed by three of the specially commissioned Continue reading

Pergolesi: Adriano in Siria

Pergolesi: Adriano in Siria
Opera Settecento, Leo Duarte
Cadogan Hall, 16 September 2015

progamme_cover_a4Pergolesi is often seen as one-horse-wonder, rather unfairly as he died aged just 26, composing his famous Stabat mater just before his death.  His other works, including several operas, are usually ignored. He was one of the first composers (of around 70) to write an opera based on Metastasio’s take on Adriano in Siria (Hadrian in Syria), two years after the libretto was written, and two years before his death. The plot is based on the story of Hadrian in his days as Governor of Syria in Antioch (where he first became Emperor), and his love for his prisoner (and daughter of the Parthian King Osroa) Emirena who, in turn, is betrothed to Farnaspe, a Parthian prince. As these things inevitably go in opera seria, Adriano is married to Sabina, who, in turn, is loved by Aquilio. Rather bizarrely, Osroa tries to rescue his daughter by setting fire to the palace that she lives in. Of course, it all ends up well – the condemned Osroa is forgiven, Farnaspe marries Emirena, and Adriano stays with his wife Sabina.  Continue reading