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Early Music

Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger




GIOVANNI BATTISTA PERGOLESI (1710-1736)
Marian Vespers
CD 1
Deus,In Adjutorium (Introit)
Gloria Patri
Sicut Erat In Principio
Alleluia
Dixit Dominus (1. Psalm)
Virgam Virtutis
Dominare
Tecum Principium
Juravit Dominus
Dominus A Dextris
Gloria Patri
Sicut Erat In Principio
Sonata for Violin and Basso Continuo
Largo
Allegro
Confitebor (2. Psalm)
Confessio
Fidelia Omnia
Redemptionem Misit
Sanctum Et Terribile
Gloria Patri
Sicut Erat In Principio
Sonata for Violin and Basso Continuo
Largo
Spirituoso
Laudate Pueri (3. Psalm)
A Solis Ortu
Excelsus Super Omnes
Quis Sicut Dominus
Suscitans A Terra
Gloria Patri
Sicut Erat In Principio
CD 2
Lucis Creator Optime (Hymn)
Sonata for Cello and Basso Continuo
Comodo
Allegro
Magnificat Anima Mea (Magnificat)
Quia Fecit Mihi Magna
Suscepit Israel
Gloria Patri
Sonata for Cello and Basso Continuo
Adagio
Presto
Salve Regina (Marian Antiphon)
Ad Te Clamamus
Ad Te Suspiramus
Eia Ergo
Et Jesum Benedictum
O Clemens
Ora Pro Nobis (Collect)
Amen
Sonata for Organ
Sophie Daneman, Noemi Kiss, Julie Cooper, Rebecca Ryan, William Purefoy, Richard Wyn Roberts, Benjamin Hullett, Matthew Beale, Simon Birchell, Robert McDonald
The Choir of New College, Oxford
The Academy of Ancient Music, Edward Higginbottom
Rec: July 2002, St. Jude’s Church, Hampstead Garden Suburb, London.
ERATO 0927-46684-2 [117.43]
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Pergolesi had a brief life, but left an unforgettable mark on music history with his Stabat Mater, his best-known work. This set contains a reconstruction of what Pergolesi might have written, if he had composed a vespers. There is no evidence that he ever penned such a composition, and this recording is pure speculation. In fact, it is little more than a series of movements strung together, with a goal of creating “a panorama of Pergolesi’s genius”. The recreator, Malcolm Bruno, does not hide his creation of a compilation, combining bits and pieces of Pergolesi’s music to attempt to render a greater work than what he might have written.
The liner notes also point out that Pergolesi would never have “known the kind of choral performance of his music presented on this disc”. Not only would the structure of the works have been different, but the forces are much larger than what Pergolesi would have had available.
So, from the very beginning, we are dealing with a bogus work by a great composer. Is that such a bad thing? Not really. This recording shows off Pergolesi’s “genius” through a selection of movements, and is perhaps better judged as a best-of collection.
However, Higginbottom makes Pergolesi sound much more like Mozart than a composer of the Italian baroque. The choir, in movements such as the Confessio, sounds far too modern for a work of the early 18th century. The music sounds almost too operatic as well - remember, this is supposed to be a sacred work.

This music is supported by two excellent sopranos, Sophie Daneman and Noemi Kiss, who grace this recording with fine, even voices, no excess of vibrato, and some hints of real emotion. But the overall work becomes confusing when, inserted in among the vocal movements, we hear two instrumental sonatas, each cut into two parts (at least they could have been played in sequence), which just don’t fit. This underscores the feeling of a best-of, in the way labels are recording discs today, tossing in a few movements of this, and some excerpts of that.

In the end, this is a hodgepodge, but an attractive one. A fine ensemble graces this disc, excellent soloists, and the recording is good, if a bit dense. Standing on its own, this music is very attractive. In its context, it is a bit of a deception. But a good time will be had by all.

Kirk McElhearn


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