Stabat Mater (Pergolesi)

The Italian composer Giovanni Battista Pergolesi was only twenty-sex years old when  he died in 1736 from tuberculosis. In the year of his death he wrote a masterpiece, the Stabat Mater.

For those readers without a Christian background, the Stabat Mater is a sorrowful hymn, dating back to the 13th century about Maria, the mother of Jesus, during the crucifixion of her son. A mother watching her son dying is very emotional, also for non-Christians. It has been put to music by many composers, Vivaldi, Rossini, Dvorak, etc. If you are interested in the full text (Latin and English) of the Stabat Mater, click here . The singers are Emma Kirkby and James Bowman

Nowadays, with YouTube accepting video clips exceeding the ten minute limit, there is a wide choice of interpretations available. Here I will give a few links with some personal comments.

Originally Pergolesi composed the Stabat Mater for a male alto and a male soprano (a castrato!), customary in his days. Here is a performance by counter-tenor Rene Jacobs and boy-soprano Sebastian Hennig. Can you hear that actually two males are singing?

Beautiful performance, although the vocal parts are sometimes a bit loud, IMHO. Here is a traditional interpretation  by Dominique Labelle, soprano and Meg Bragle, mezzo-soprano.

Alto, mezzo-soprano, counter-tenor, pick your choice. This performance is in the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, walking distance from my former domicile. Soloists here are soprano Johannette Zomer en counter-tenor Maarten Engeltjes

Here is an interesting performance coming from Armenia(!), where several of the solo arias are being sung by a choir. Impressive!

Finally, here is my favourite. Performed by Les Pages & les Chantres de la Chapelle, conducted by Olivier Schneebeli. Also here soloists and choir. I like the instrumentation very much.

After listening to these five different interpretations of Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater, you may be in the mood to listen to something different?

Here is Andreas Scholl in the Stabat Mater by Vivaldi. My favourite counter-tenor.

Take care that you view the YouTube clips one by one, or it will become a chaos..:-)

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