One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,514 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider


paid for


100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas

FOGHORN Classics

Mozart Brahms
Clarinet Quintets

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat



Recordings of the Month


From Ocean’s Floor


Conner Riddle Songs

Rodzinski Sibelius

Of Innocence and Experience


Symphonies 1, 2, 3

Support us financially by purchasing this disc from
Il Pergolese
Ogne pena cchiù spietata [5:57]
Amen/ Fac Ut Portem [11:20]
Sinfonia for violoncello [3:08]
Chi disse ca la femmena [10:02]
Tre giorni son che Nina [4:42]
Fremente [3:13]
In compagnia d’amore I [4:11]
In compagnia d’amore II [3:46]
Dolente [7:18]
Maria Pia De Vito (voice)
François Couturier (piano)
Anja Lechner (cello)
Michele Rabbia (percussion, electronics)
rec. December 2013, Auditorio Radiotelevisione Svizzera, Lugano
ECM NEW SERIES 2340 [59:16]

This release is an unusual tribute to Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (1710-1736), bringing together well-known ECM artists François Couturier, Anja Lechner and Michele Rabbia with singer Maria Pia De Vito who here makes her ECM debut. With a strong improvisational element in the project she is a key partner, having long been active in improvisation and jazz with musical partners including John Taylor and Ralph Towner. Her translation of the texts into Neapolitan adds another personal angle to the final result.
These tracks are arrangements and interpretations of Pergolesi’s music which draw on the sensitivity of an authentic period performance, placed in an entirely contemporary setting which has strong flavours of jazz and some of ‘world’ music. Most of the material is taken from Pergolesi’s famous Stabat Mater, and the title listed as improvisations also make reference to his Nun sic hella ch’io lassaje and tu di saper procura. It is intriguing to hear what the musicians make of tunes and harmonies which are at once familiar and at the same time often strangely elusive.
Maria Pia De Vito’s voice is very fine, and in no way comparable with your operatic diva. The lines which soar over gentle accompaniments in the second track’s Amen is a good example of depth in expression performed with a superb economy of means. This music is turned into a flowing waltz which charms as well as moves, moving effortlessly into the Fac Ut Portem in a glowingly transparent setting.
The recording is of the type which will be familiar to ECM fans with the instruments bathing in rich resonance, the lines from the piano given a legato feel and any kind of urgency in the music reined in towards a feel of nocturnal classiness. There are ‘experimental’ sections, such as the pointillist percussion sounds which develop in the Sinfonia for violoncello, but there is nothing threatening - more an aura of mild mystery than anything to shock the mother-in-law. The playing is always beautiful and restrained, much as it would be in a conventional Pergolesi concert, though there is some drama in the Chi disse ca la femmena which in this case wouldn’t sound entirely out of place in Bizet’s Carmen, and subsequently your local belly-dance demo.
The electronics are another element usually used with sensitivity and restraint. You’ll be intrigued to hear the first bars of Schoenberg’s Farben from the Five Orchestral Pieces pressed into use in In compagnia d’amore I. While this title is a little heavy on the high-pitched whine type of noise it still manages to stay more or less in idiom. In compagnia d’amore II is more a kind of free jazz-improv but with flourishes of the baroque, the cello just about keeping our toes in early music sonority-land. This leads us into the final atmospheric Dolente, a fittingly haunting conclusion to a recording which will stick around in your mind and keep tempting you back for more.
This is a release which unites the familiar with, if you are used to the ECM aesthetic, the equally familiar. It is fascinating to hear how Pergolesi’s immortal music can be transformed into a contemporary musical environment. With performing as sublime as this the results are always going to be something rather special. You won’t go for this if you are only interested in Pergolesi in his ‘original’ form, but if you are prepared to extend your horizons to embrace a collective re-invention of some heavenly music then you might be pleasantly surprised.
Dominy Clements