Pergolesi is chiefly known for two works of widely differing character, his comic intermezzo La servo padrona of 1733 and the Stabat muter which probably belongs to the very last months of a singularly short life (1710-1736). My own greater affection lies with the Stabat mater which, as Tom Walker observes in his interesting sleevenote, searches out new solutions to the expression of tender pathos. Padre Martini's accusation that Pergolesi used the same expressive language in both works is not fair. That is not to say that a theatrical element is absent from the Stabat mater; there is, in fact, quite a strong one, but of the spirit of his intermezzo there is hardly a trace.
This new performance confines the two vocal lines toRead more solo voices rather than introducing any choral texture. I prefer it that way and there is some very sensitive singing here. The treble, Sebastian Hennig, we have already encountered in the Telefunken series of Bach cantatas. His is an agile and naturally expressive technique with predominantly sure intonation and a timbre to suit the music. His entries are beautifully clean, his diction beyond reproach and his attention to nuances of the text surprising in one of his tender years. His "Vidit suum dulcem natum" is full of pathos and anguish. The alto, Renê Jacobs, needs little in the way of introduction. His style is somewhat different and he, unlike Hennig, cannot resist scooping up his notes at the beginning of phrases. I do not much care for this mannerism but am none the less full of admiration for his handling of the music; his "Fac ut portem Christi mortem" is affectingly delivered. There is a degree of fervent intensity in both vocalists which does much to emphasize the spirit of the text.
I was less impressed by the string ensemble which is untidy in the top parts and thin in texture. Fortunately, one only notices it in the few exposed parts of the score and 1 did not find it a serious hindrance to my overall enjoyment. If you retain a place in your heart for this work, do try this performance. Its many ravishing moments easily win over the shortcomings.
-- Gramophone [2/1984] reviewing the original LP release Read less
Works on This Recording
Stabat Materby Giovanni Battista Pergolesi Performer:
René Jacobs (Countertenor),
Sebastian Hennig (Boy Soprano)
Period: Baroque Written: 1736; Pozzuoli, Italy Language: Latin