Author Topic: Pergolesi Stabat Mater  (Read 656 times)

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Offline knight66

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Pergolesi Stabat Mater
« on: May 05, 2018, 10:42:23 PM »
250 years ago this piece was all the the rage across Europe. The early death of its composer fed into the popularity,  beautiful, dolorus and a late piece by a doomed young composer. It became the most performed religious work for about 80 years, it is again popular. There are lots of excellent versions around. I have more than half a dozen, only one is problematical at all.

I heard it first via Breganza and Freni on LP, lost in the mists of time, I can’t recall much of it. Unavailable on CD I replaced it with an Abbado version with Margaret Marshall and Lucia Valentini Terrani, who has very recently died. Somewhat operatic and Romantic in approach, it is still a favourite for the sheer beauty of the singing. At the opposite end of the spectrum is Alessandrini with Mingardo and Bertagnolli. Instruments are one to a part, hair shirt stuff. It is a version that denudes the piece of its sweetness and exposes a grave meditation, terrific.

In between those is this quite new version:

Julia Lezhneva, Phillipe Jaroussky, I Barocchisti conducted by Diego Fasolis on Erato.

This is as good as any version for me. Lezhneva has a very pure, beautiful voice, great technique and breath control. She is becoming a star at a very young age. Usually this piece is sung by a soprano and an alto, though the vocal ranges within the piece are similar. A decision was taken here to cast two mezzos. Lezhneva is variously described as a soprano or as a mezzo. Here she modifies her sound to shadow that of Jaroussky, to the extent that it is often hard to tell which is singing. It is an interesting approach and once you accept the idea, it draws attention away from the often beautifully contrasting voices, to direct you to the words. This is another disc that achieves that aim of delving into a meditation rather than displaying a religious showpiece.

The pacing is apt, neither slow nor driven, as in Biondi who ruins his version by storming through it. The sound is forward and open. And the piece is exceptionally well served. I have written almost nothing about Jaroussky, he is excellent, his sound well known as are his skills.

The fillers are two rare Pergolesi cantatas, one to each singer, the ‘soprano’ one has a choral part. Beautiful music, but not memorable in the way of Pergolesi’s greatest hit. In the Confitebor you, singing alone, you will hear the fuller tone of Lezhneva.

 Here she is singing a short piece of Handel, irresistible. If this does not turn you to jelly, go to see a doctor. 

https://youtu.be/YJzB1fHbq9U


Mike
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Offline Moonfish

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Re: Pergolesi Stabat Mater
« Reply #1 on: May 07, 2018, 10:11:13 PM »
Thanks for this alluring recommendation, Mike! I have had a "crush" on the Abbado/Marshall rendition for many years now - never quite feeling the need to explore further since the performance resonated with such beauty.  Your post made me go and sample the Freni/Berganza as well as the Lezhneva/Jaroussky. Like you mentioned - they come across differently with voices, tempo and orchestra giving rise to a different sense of Pergolesi's work.  For some odd reason I'm charmed by the Freni/Berganza (which was probably not your intention with the Lezhneva post - ha ha).   Hmm, I wonder how many recordings there are of Stabat Mater? Anyways, the Lezhneva link you shared certainly brings us to a divine voice. Thanks for bringing new light to Pergolesi!!!
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Offline knight66

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Re: Pergolesi Stabat Mater
« Reply #2 on: May 08, 2018, 12:08:20 PM »
My pleasure. I should look out the Freni/Berganza on Spotify and see how it holds up. Really the main thing is to enjoy the piece. So often the first recording of a wirk that you buy can stick and be hard to dislodge. But that one left no traces in my memory, though with those singers, it should be a good one of its time. I have one with Ferrier and a soprano plus choir, pretty painful in several ways, though as always Ferrier transcends the problems.

Amazon has 38 versons in the first three pages of 20, though there will be some download pages no doubt. It makes my eight or nine versions look poor.

Mike

Edit: I listened to the Ferni/Berganza version. It did not bring back memories. For sure I did not remember the Mantovani-like strings. Some movements are funerial and I can hear Freni clipping the beat to try and speed up in the first movement. The two voices sound great but very operatic. It reminds me of the Rossini Stabat Mater, very fruity. Ha!
« Last Edit: May 08, 2018, 12:44:37 PM by knight66 »
DavidW: Yeah Mike doesn't get angry, he gets even.
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