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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    



Giovanni Battista PERGOLESI (1710-1736)
Stabat Mater

Stabat Mater dolorosa 3'52
Cujus animam gementen 1'58
O quam tristis et afflieta 2'13
Quae moerebat et dolebat 2'04
Quis est homo qui non fleret 2'42
Vidit suum dulcem natum 3'03
Eja mater fons amoris 2'30
Fac, ut ardeat cor meum 2'12
Sancta mater, istud agas 5'23
Fac ut portem Christi mortem 3'45
Inflammatus et accensus 1'59
Quado corpus morietur 3'56
Angharad Gruffydd Jones, soprano
Lawrence Zazzo, counter-tenor
Julia Bishop, Joanna Parker, violin
Peter Whiskin, viola
Joanna Levine, cello
Mark Levy, Violone
Timothy Brown, organ / director
Filmed at: All Saints, Aldwincle, England
BRILLIANT CLASSICS 99783 [37'49]


The CD is available in a 3CD set


Pergolesi had a brief life, but left an unforgettable mark on music history with his Stabat Mater, the main work on this recording. Written in the last year of his life, as he was dying of consumption, this work praising the Virgin Mary is a combination of melancholy movements (such as the almost tear-evoking opening Duetto) and more hopeful sections, such as the lively aria for alto which makes up the fourth section of this work.

This sacred music, which incorporates many aspects of operatic music, was commissioned by a group of Neapolitan noblemen. It is thought that it was meant to replace Alessandro Scarlatti's Stabat Mater, a similar work, composed in an older style. Pergolesi, in this work, combined the strict Neapolitan church style with the more melodic aspects of then modern opera, resulting in a work of unique emotional effect.

Soprano Angharad Gruffydd Jones has an intriguing voice. With an airy sound, almost like a boy soprano, it seems lightweight at first, but grows on this listener. It becomes a tantalizing voice, one that almost defies description, and carries this entire work. Counter-tenor Lawrence Zazzo is also very good, and their two voices marry perfectly during the duos.

However, I must react to something that disturbs me greatly. This DVD is a film of singers lip-synching and musicians pretending to play or, perhaps, really playing; itís just not recorded. Brilliant Classics took a CD they had recorded and had the musicians sing and play along to it. Nothing on the box of the DVD indicates this - while nothing suggests that it was indeed a live recording, I feel that there is a tacit understanding that this is the case.

The music on this DVD is excellent; the fact that the musicians are merely singing and playing along with a CD is deeply regrettable. Buy the CD; it is marvellously sung and performed by all. Donít bother with the DVD.

Kirk McElhearn

The music on this DVD is excellent; the fact that the musicians are merely singing and playing along with a CD is detestable. Buy the CD; it is marvellously sung and performed by all. Donít bother with the DVD. Ö see Full Review


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