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.
Stabat Mater is a 13th-century Roman Catholic hymn to Mary. It has been variously attributed to the Franciscan Jacopone da Todi and to Innocent III. There are two Stabat Mater hymns, one the Stabat Mater Dolorosa is about the Sorrows of Mary, the other, Stabat Mater Speciosa joyfully refers to the Nativity of Jesus. The title of the sorrowful hymn is an incipit of the first line, Stabat mater dolorosa ("The sorrowful mother stood"). The joyful hymn refers to "The beautiful mother stood". The Dolorosa hymn, one of the most powerful and immediate of extant medieval poems, meditates on the suffering of Mary, Jesus Christ's mother, during his crucifixion. It is sung at the liturgy on the memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows…
"The latest Vivaldi recording on Naïve…focuses on sacred works: the Stabat Mater (RV 621) and Nisi Dominus (RV 608), both performed with potent expression by the fine period group Ensemble Matheus, led by Jean-Christophe Spinosi.
Vivaldi, also a priest, wrote the Nisi Dominus for the Ospedale Della Pietà in Venice, where he taught orphaned girls the violin. The countertenor Philippe Jaroussky wields his sweet-toned, radiant voice to emotive effect, displaying both a rapid-fire coloratura technique and a poignant, lyrical expressiveness, particularly haunting in “Cum dederit.”
In the more austere Stabat Mater, Marie-Nicole Lemieux sings with a gripping sense of drama, her darkly rich, agile contralto illuminating the text with anguish and passion.
The Ensemble Matheus plays with vigorous flair and sharply etched dynamic contrasts. Its crisp period approach sounds alternately fiery and gently warm, with dramatic explosions of color in “Surgite postquam” and almost inaudible whisperings at the beginning of “Cum dederit.”
The disc also includes a Crucifixus from a Credo attributed to Vivaldi (RV 592), a moving duet reminiscent of Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater."– Vivien Schweitzer, New York Times
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