Marian Music from Naples
ANON Stabat mater (intonation) [2:35]
Tarantella napoletana [3:55]
Stabat mater dolorosa (plainchant, from manuscripts c.1715) [7:47]
Francesco DURANTE (1684-1755)
Concerto No.4 in e minor [10:08]
ANON Stabat mater dolorosa (plainchant, from Ostuni manuscript)
Giovanni Battista PERGOLESI (1710-1736)
Stabat Mater dolorosa [34:05]
Patrizia Bovi (soprano), Pino de Vittorio (tenor), Bernard Arrieta (bass)
Les Pages et les Chantres de la Chapelle
Le Poème Harmonique/Vincent Dumestre
rec. Paris, February 2000. DDD
Texts NOT included
ALPHA CLASSICS 308 [59:50]
The Outhere group, who have produced some very fine
recordings of baroque music, have just reissued at budget price fourteen
albums of what they call ‘seminal’ repertoire, some of them 2-CD sets,
from their Alpha and Zig Zag Territoires labels. Though they come at
an attractive price, the booklets have mostly not been skimped, with
new sets of notes included. There are, however, no texts in this release;
though that of the Stabat Mater is not hard to find online,
it should have been provided. The recordings – all of fairly recent
provenance – are good.
My other complaint is that whereas the Alpha originals offered artwork
contemporary with the music, we now have garish modern covers instead.
The CDs come in a cardboard bi-fold, into opposite sides of which the
disc and booklet are slipped. If you prefer something less flimsy,
it’s easy to keep the CD and booklet in a slim-line plastic case.
With plenty of very fine recordings of the Pergolesi Stabat Mater
to choose, in order to be competitive any new or reissued version needs
to have a special selling point. In this case it’s the fact that the
Pergolesi is preceded by a number of other versions of Stabat mater,
such as might have been sung in procession in Passiontide in Naples
in his time. For these items, all taken from manuscripts roughly contemporary
with Pergolesi, the singers use an open-throated folk style which contrasts
with the much more refined approach to the main work.
With other recordings offering more music by Pergolesi, usually one
or both of his settings of Salve Regina, or another composer’s
setting of Stabat Mater, I don’t expect that I shall be playing
the first part of this CD too often – perhaps just the Durante concerto
as a prelude to the Pergolesi. The rest is a one-off experience, though
you may feel otherwise.
For the Pergolesi setting one of my prime choices would be Anna Netrebko
and Marianna Pizzolato with the Santa Cecilia Orchestra and Antonio
Pappano (DG 4778877, prestige edition – review
– or 4779337, standard edition). If in the mood for a more emotional
ride through this and Alessandro Scarlatti’s Stabat Mater, the
work which it was commissioned to supersede, the best option is Rinaldo
Alessandrini with Gemma Bertagnolli, Sara Mingardo and Concerto Italiano
(Naïve OP30441, budget price – review).
Vincent Dumestre and his Poème Harmonique switch from Naples to Versailles
for the Pergolesi, where it was performed continuously from before 1753
to 1790 employing the version found in the manuscript Les menus plaisirs
They give a good, reasonably ‘straight’ performance – much less impassioned
than the Alessandrini, though that doesn’t mean tame. If there were
no comparisons to be made among similar interpretations, I might well
have enjoyed it more. Most sections are actually faster than on the
recordings by Alessandrini, Pappano or Hogwood (below), but the effect
is more of emotion recollected in tranquillity than with the first two.
The problem for me lies with the soprano part. The various soloists
from Le Poème sing well, but somewhere in the back of my mind is the
wonderful Dame Emma Kirkby whose recording with a splendid partner in
James Bowman, the Academy of Ancient Music and Christopher Hogwood is
also available at about the same price as the Alpha (Decca 4256992,
with Salve Regina in c minor, around £8.50. Also in The Baroque
Era, 4786753, 50 CDs for around £80). If Netrebko is a tad too
operatic for you, Kirkby is your best choice. Her recording is also
available on Decca Virtuoso for even less, around £7, with Andreas Scholl,
Les Talens Lyriques and Christophe Rousset in the Pergolesi Salve
Regina in f minor).
Kirkby, Bowman and Hogwood steer a very effective middle course between
the stylish merits of the Dumestre performance and the greater sense
of emotional involvement of Alessandrini. The recording still sounds
well and you have the option of obtaining it in various inexpensive
formats: if your baroque library is still in gestation you could do
much worse than obtain that 50-CD set, which is also available to download
in two 25-CD parts, with the Pergolesi on the first half.
If you would like to make the comparison yourself, all four versions
mentioned are available from Qobuz: the Dumestre is here
– subscribers can stream whole works; others can sample.
If Le Poème Harmonique and Vincent Dumestre appeal, they appear on another
reissue in this series, in Mazzoli’s La Fiera di Farfa and Monteverdi’s
Lamento della Ninfa and Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda
(ALPHA306). More about that in my next Download News.
This is an attractive reissue, especially if the first part attracts
you, but not one of the best in the series. The performance of the
main work yields to several other recordings, some equally inexpensive.