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  Channel Classics -
  CCS SA 29810
  Pergolesi: Stabat Mater - Florilegium
  Pergolesi: Stabat Mater, Flute Concerto in G major, Sinfonia in F major for Cello and Continuo, Salve Regina in F minor

Robin Blaze (counter tenor)
Elin Manahan Thomas (soprano)
Track listing:
  Classical - Vocal
Recording type:
Recording info:

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Related titles: 4

Reviews: 2

Review by garthoz July 18, 2010 (4 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
This is a welcome opportunity to hear something of the output of Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (1710-1736); yes, died at age 26 years. The feature piece is Stabat Mater (Latin for "The sorrowful mother") which is based on a 13th century text in the form of a meditation on the sufferings of Mary as she stands at the foot of the cross and watches her son Jesus die. There have been many musical settings of this text and this especially commissioned one by Pergolesi was very popular, being much printed and performed after the composer's death. J S Bach was impressed enough to arrange Pergoli's piece in his own setting of Psalm 51. This is also available on a recent release (see BIS-SACD-1546). Although this is a very sombre scene being depicted, this music is anything but morbid or banal. Pergolesi's music comes across as more to the fore than the words. His style is from the baroque but with some classical elements, including the pauses, counterpoint and the merging of chords. It is inventive, dramatic and thought provoking. One could use this piece for mediation by following the translation provided or else sit back and experience an excellent piece of art. Florilegium's playing is suitably dramatic and crisp with steely strings and firm bass background. The part traditionally sung by a boy soprano is performed beautifully by Elin Manahan Thomas. She was obviously comfortable with this piece, with a natural, relaxed style, forthright when called for and using just the right amount of vibrato. The alto part is sung by the counter tenor Robin Blaze, whose performance I found to be amicable, totally professional and a suitable balance to the treble part.
The Flute Concerto in G major is a welcome "sorbet" interlude. It is only possibly by Pergolesi but is certainly full of charm and character. The first movement especially is full of sprightly inventiveness. Ashley Solomon is the man with the flute.
Pergolesi's Sinfonia in F major for cello and continuo features Jennifer Morsches on the cello. What a gem is the Presto movement! Igor Stravinsky noticed it and rearranged it for double basses and trombone in his ballet Pulcinella.
The words for Salve Regina ("Hail, holy Queen") originate from the Middle ages and are a liturgical response relating to Mary the mother of Jesus. Pergolesi's setting of this for accompanied alto voice (counter tenor) conclude the selections on this disc. It is a fitting finale for the disc as the poignancy returns for a perfect blending of words and music. It receives a wonderful treatment from Robyn Blaze who sings with drama and intensity, even if he seemed a little quiet in the lower registers.
The recording does justice to the music and performers, with suitable stage depth and balance between singers and instruments. The surround speakers provide ambience as appropriate for the venue (St John the Evangelist Church, London). I thought Robin's voice was too close in Tracks 4 & 7 and I found the base a little too prominent and tiring a few times but nearly always one was unaware of the recording media and able to focus on the music. Not perfect but generally of the high standard we've come to expect from Jared Sacks and Channel Classics. Highly recommended.

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Review by JJ September 14, 2010 (3 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
The well-known Stabat Mater by Pergolèse, a “commission of the Fraternity of Saint Louis of the Palace dating from 1736, was begun in Naples and finished in Pozzuoli in the monastery of the poor Capuchins in 1736,” remarks Sylvie Bouissou. “In a strange series of circumstances, the autograph manuscript of the Stabat Mater was bequeathed by Pergolèse himself, a few days before his death, to Francesco Feo, his old teacher at the conservatory of the poor of Our Lord Jesus Christ.” Salve Regina in C minor is an antiphony for soprano, two violins and bass. These two religious works are here separated by the Concerto for Flute in G major, which is not by the Italian composer, and the Sinfonia in F major for Cello and Bass, which is of more authentic character. Florilegium, the counter tenor Robin Blaze, and the soprano Elin Manahan Thomas have all found in these sacred pages the ideal setting wherein exemplary musical expression blooms. There is no denying that all here is marked with the stamp of grace. The same can be said for the instrumental works with Ashley Solomon on the flute and Jennifer Morsches on the cello. One need only close one’s eyes to be swept away by light and profound vitality of a magisterial and inspired interpretation. This is one of the best SACDs of the season.

Jean-Jacques Millo
Translation Lawrence Schulman

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Works: 4  

Giovanni Battista Pergolesi - Flute Concerto in G major
Giovanni Battista Pergolesi - Salve Regina
Giovanni Battista Pergolesi - Sinfonia in F major for Cello and Continuo
Giovanni Battista Pergolesi - Stabat Mater