Saturday, June 10, 2017

Giovanni Battista Pergolesi; Alessandro Scarlatti - Stabat Mater (Rinaldo Alessandrini)


Information

Composer: Giovanni Battista Pergolesi; Alessandro Scarlatti
  • (01-12) Pergolesi - Stabat Mater
  • (13-30) A. Scarlatti - Stabat Mater

Gemma Bertagnolli, soprano
Sara Mingardo, contralto
Concerto Italiano
Rinaldo Alessandrini, conductor

Date: 1998
Label: Naïve (original on Opus 111)


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Review

Many readers will already be in possession of at least one recording of Pergolesi’s Stabat mater and, in a highly competitive field, they may well be satisfied with their choice of performance. So I find myself looking for qualities in this new version which commend it over and above others that I know. One of them seems to me to lie in the imaginative and stylistically assured direction of Rinaldo Alessandrini. As in his acclaimed recordings of Monteverdi’s madrigals (Arcana, 7/93 and Opus 111, 12/93, 8/95, 5/97 and 11/97), Alessandrini lays emphasis on the relationship between words and music, and he has come up with some ideas which probe deeper than many, in his aim to bring the piece to life with expressive fervour. And it is a notion, both apposite and, to an extent, complementary, to pair the work with another, earlier Stabat mater by Alessandro Scarlatti. Both settings were commissioned by the same Neapolitan brotherhood, Pergolesi’s to replace the other which the brethren reckoned a little old-fashioned. It isn’t really, for though it does not breathe the theatrical atmosphere of Pergolesi’s iridescent music, it is far from being archaic and overall, perhaps, makes a stronger appeal to the contemplative spirit.

Both settings are similarly scored for soprano and alto soloists with strings and continuo. Alessandrini did well to engage the services of two such well-disciplined and warmly communicative singers. Gemma Bertagnolli is new to me, but her secure technique – which allows her on occasion to indulge in virtuosic vocal athletics – and her clear, forceful delivery made instant appeal. It is Sara Mingardo, though, who makes the stronger impression with her slightly more disciplined approach and her fervent declamation. Her ‘Fac ut portem Christi mortem’ in the Pergolesi is very affectingly interpreted. Both singers make much of the vivid word-painting – present in each of the settings – but wholeheartedly revelling in the melodic allure of the Pergolesi. Only occasional passages of upper string playing diminished my enjoyment.

On balance, Alessandrini’s recording is my first choice, since I prefer the alto part to be sung by a female artist of Mingardo’s calibre than by a falsetto voice. Runner-up in the same category is the version with Dorothea Roschmann and Catherine Robbin. But some readers will not agree, and for them I would recommend Emma Kirkby and James Bowman, or Gillian Fisher and Michael Chance. A third, with Mieke van der Sluis and Gerard Lesne, is spoilt by an over-reverberant acoustic, while a fourth with a hugely talented boy soprano, Sebastian Hennig and Rene Jacobs has some wonderful moments. Over to you.

-- Nicholas Anderson, Gramophone

More reviews:
ClassicsToday  ARTISTIC QUALITY: 10 / SOUND QUALITY: 10
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2008/May08/Pergolesi_scarlatti_op30441.htm
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2011/Jan11/pergolesi_scarlatti_op30507.htm
https://www.amazon.com/Pergolesi-Scarlatti-Bertagnolli-Mingardo-Alessandrini/dp/B00000DLYG

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Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (4 January 1710 – 16 March 1736) was an Italian composer, violinist and organist. Pergolesi was one of the most important early composers of opera buffa. He also wrote sacred music, including a Mass in F, three Salve Regina settings and the Stabat Mater (1736), which is his best-known sacred work.  The work remained popular, becoming the most frequently printed musical work of the 18th century, and being arranged by a number of other composers, including Johann Sebastian Bach. Pergolesi also wrote a number of secular instrumental works.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giovanni_Battista_Pergolesi

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Alessandro Scarlatti (2 May 1660 – 22 October 1725) was an Italian Baroque composer, especially famous for his operas and chamber cantatas. He is considered the founder of the Neapolitan school of opera. He was the father of two other composers, Domenico Scarlatti and Pietro Filippo Scarlatti. Scarlatti's music forms an important link between the early Baroque Italian vocal styles of the 17th century, with their centers in Florence, Venice and Rome, and the classical school of the 18th century.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alessandro_Scarlatti

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Rinaldo Alessandrini (born 25 January 1960 in Rome) is a Italian virtuoso on Baroque keyboards, including harpsichord, fortepiano, and organ. He is founder and conductor of the Italian early music ensemble Concerto Italiano, performing music of Monteverdi, Vivaldi, Couperin, Bach, and others. He is considered a foremost interpreter of early Italian opera. Alessandrini and the Concerto Italiano have toured extensively in Europe and recorded for various labels such as Tactus, Opus111 and Naïve.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rinaldo_Alessandrini
http://www.allmusic.com/artist/rinaldo-alessandrini-mn0001446792/biography

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