About the composer
Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (1710 – 1736) was born in Jesi, Italy. His name became known thanks to his comic opera La Serva Padrona. He was slightly handicapped and had a weak constitution. He probably died of tuberculosis.
A lot of confusion exists about which works Pergolesi did or did not compose. As his work came more and more in demand, some publishers tried to make a little extra by taking an anonymous composition and attaching the name of Pergolesi to it. However, about the Stabat Mater there is no doubt. It is known that in his early years he composed a Stabat Mater in A minor.
Probably the Stabat Mater in C minor was Pergolesi’s last composition. The commission for this work was given by the same Order in Naples for which Alessandro Scarlatti had composed a Stabat Mater in 1723. Though the score of the compositions is almost identical, the melodic lines of Pergolesi are more sentimental and highly ornamented. The piece was widely acclaimed and it seems to have inspired many composers to imitate, paraphrase and adapt (see Brunetti, de Nardis and Paisiello). Joseph Eybler (1764 – 1846), who was a friend of Mozart and who became Court Kapellmeister in Vienna after Antonio Salieri, added a choir to replace some of the duets, and extended the orchestra. Others were John Adam Hiller/Johann Adam Hüller (1728 – 1804) and Alexy Fyodorovich L’vov (ca. 1830). The musical setting of Psalm 51 “Tilge, Höchster, meine Sünden” of the great Johann Sebastian is another example.
A completely different, and very curious adaptation is by a group called “Ophelia’s Dream” (see CD 8). It seems that this kind of music is described as “Gothic”.
The Victor Alcántara Trio recorded an extended (one hour!) jazz improvisation , in which all parts of the Stabat Mater are used as starting points (See CD 9) and another interesting one is by Jazz musician Enrico Rava for string quartet, trumpet, accordion, guitar, bass and percussion (See CD 10).
The well-known producer Frank Fitzpatrick, who also composed music for numerous movies, recently produced a CD in a kind of hip-hop style for the singer Sasha Lazard, with a Stabat Mater composition by him, based on Pergolesi (See CD 11).
Another quite different interpretation of the first part of Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater can be found on a CD by “Le Quator” (See CD 12). This group is a string quartet, but they sing, too, playing all kinds of music, from Cole Porter to Mozart. Though they are a kind of musical clowns, their interpretation of the music comes close to being serious.
The soundtrack of the George Lukas movie “THX 1138” contains a small Stabat Mater, composed by Lalo Schifrin. It starts with a line from the first part of Pergolesi’s work, but then develops into a gloomy orchestral work. It plays during the film titles. (See CD 13)
The first and last parts of Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater have been used in the soundtrack of the movie “Jésus de Montréal”; the third part (Quis est homo) is used in the soundtrack of the movie “Smilla’s Sense of Snow”; the last part is also used in the movie “Amadeus” and in the movie “Mirror” by Andrei Tarkovsky.
The film “Cactus” by the Australian director Paul Cox is also said to have Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater on the soundtrack, but I do not know what parts are used.
About the Stabat Mater
Soprano, alto, three violins, cello, organ
|Length:||41.44 minutes (CD 1), 41.30 minutes (CD 2), 37.27 minutes (CD 3), 40.03 minutes (CD 4), 34.58 minutes (CD 5), 39.38 minutes (CD 6), 33.12 (CD 7) minutes|
The work is divided into twelve sections, varying from one to five stanzas. Very moving melodies, which led to some criticism because they were thought to be too cheerful. Interesting is the line "dum e-mi-sit" which is sung intermittently, as a musical picture of the last breaths of Jesus. This is found also with some other composers.
The "Analecta"-version of the text is used, with one change:
Information about the recording
|CD1:||Decca 421 645-2: Rossini, Petite Messe Solenelle|
A double CD with Rossini’s beautiful mass, to which the Stabat Mater has been added to complete the second CD. These registrations appeared earlier on LP. The Stabat Mater was recorded at the Conservatorio di Napoli, Naples, in July 1964. It is a fine performance, with excellent soloists, though the use of a full-bodied string orchestra is not exactly as Pergolesi prescribed. I bought this CD in a record shop in the Netherlands, 1994
|Orchestra:||Orchestra Rossini di Napoli|
Judith Raskin, soprano
Gioacchino Rossini: Petite Messe Solenelle
|Code:||1994 ROS 02|
|CD2:||Decca 443 869-2 (double CD): Pergolesi/Scarlatti/Bononcini – Stabat Mater|
A nice collection of Stabat Maters and some other works, even if the registrations are rather old. As it is the only Bononcini registration that I know of, every collector should have it. Pergolesi was recorded in 1978. The performance deviates from the original score, as a choir is used in some sections, and, of course, a full-bodied string orchestra. I bought this CD in a record shop in the Netherlands, 1997
|Orchestra:||The Argo Chamber Orchestra|
|Choir:||Choir of St.John's College, Cambridge|
Felicity Palmer, soprano
Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, Magnificat in C major
|Code:||1997 BON 01|
|CD3:||L’Oiseau-Lyre 425 692-2: Pergolesi -Stabat Mater – Salve Regina|
Recorded at the St Jude’s Church, London, in August 1988. Another fine performance, with excellent soloists, though again the use of a full-bodied string orchestra is not exactly as Pergolesi prescribed. Some people find this interpretation too florid.
|Orchestra:||Academy of Ancient Music|
Emma Kirkby, soprano
Giovanni Battista Pergolesi: Salve Regina
|CD4:||STH Quality Records 19343: Giovanni Pergolesi, Stabat Mater|
I like this one, even if I am not very fond of trebles, because the interpretation is as close to the original as possible. No female singers are used, and the accompaniment is as Pergolesi wrote. Pure Pergolesi! Recorded at the St.Joriskerk, Amersfoort, Netherlands, in May 1993.
|Conductor:||Pieter Jan Leusink|
Martinus Leusink, treble
|Code:||Unknown PER 02|
|CD5:||Alpha 009: Musica napoletana per la festa della Vergine dei Sette dolori|
This CD tries to paint a picture of the festivities that took place in the streets of Naples in the 18th century during processions hold in honor of the Virgin of the Seven Sorrows, on the Friday before Palm Sunday. Recorded in Paris, February 2000. The Pergolesi Stabat Mater is performed with a light accompaniment, as it should, but stanzas 1, 3, 10 and 20 are sung not by soloists, but by a choir. It is a very fast interpretation.
|Orchestra:||Le Poème Harmoniqu|
|Choir:||Les Pages e les Chantres de la Chapelle|
Arno Meier, Florent Msigtot, Marie Planinsek, trebles
Anonymous: Stabat Mater intonation
|Code:||Unknown (PER 03)|
|CD6:||Novita’ della Classica: Pergolesi, Stabat Mater – Salve Regina – In Coelestibus Regnis|
Nice performance, with fine soloists, but again, with the use of a full-bodied string orchestra.
|Orchestra:||I Solisti dell'Orchestra Filarmonica della Scala|
Barbara Frittoli, soprano
|CD7:||KRO ES47.387: Stabat Mater Giovanni Pergolesi|
This CD is produced by the Dutch KRO radio, in cooperation with the Stabat Mater Foundation. Even faster than CD 5. Yet again, with the use of a full-bodied string orchestra. Also, the soloists are partly – during 6 stanzas – replaced by a female choir. Nevertheless, a performance worth listening to, in a suitable location. Moreover, it features the world premiere of the Stabat Mater by Fiocco. It is a recording of a concert performed on April 1, 2001 in the St.Petrus church at Oirschot.
Roberta Alexander, soprano
Pietro Antonio Fiocco, Stabat Mater
|Code:||2001 (FIO 01)|
|CD8:||Sad Eyes (Trinity records) tri 051 cd: Ophelia’s Dream – Stabat Mater – EP|
It is a pity that very little information is given with this CD. A sticker on the box tell us:
Susanne Stierle and Dietmar Greulich
|Code:||2001 PER 05|
|CD9:||Organic Music ORGM 9716: Victor Alcántara Trio. Stabat Mater Inspirations|
A very nice improvisation. As Victor Alcántara writes: “This trio arrangement is intended to let the music speak for itself. The text was not the point of departure for the arrangement, though it has left its mark. I hope that despite the musical treatment to which the original has been subjected, the listener can still perceive the love which with Pergolesi wrote his work an which remains immanent in it”. Recorded in Germany in 1999.
|Orchestra:||Victor Alcántara Trio|
Victor Alcántara: piano
|CD10:||Harmonia Mundi (Label Bleu) LBLC 6559: “Rava l’opera va”|
Partly, the jazz improvisation follows the Pergolesi melodies in a very relaxed way, partly it consists of Miles Davies-like improvisations, not really my taste. The CD was recorded in Italy in 1993. I bought this CD in a record shop in the Netherlands in 1999.
|Orchestra:||String quartet "Insieme strumentale di Roma"|
Enrico Rava, trumpet
Jazz improvisations on works by Puccini (a.o. Tosca) and Bizet
|Code:||1999 PER 07|
|CD11:||Omtown OMCD 11552: Sasha Lazard, The Myth of Red|
A collection of songs, described on Sasha Lazard’s website as: Operatic arias fused together with primal/tribal electronic hip-hop beats. We can hear Pergolesi in the song Stabat Mater IXXI and in Stabat Mater Reprise. Recorded in the USA in 2002. I bought this CD on the Internet, JPC.de, 2003.
|Orchestra:||Keyboards, synth bass, percussion, cello|
Sasha Lazard, soprano
The music is partly based on classical music (for instance Rachmaninov, Caccini, Verdi, Cesti, Saint-Saens)
|Code:||2003 PER 08|
|CD12:||JMS 18689-2: Le Quator|
A collection of musical pieces which resemble patchwork, being composed of parts of classical music, modern and traditional songs, played by musical clowns. Still, it is quite nice to listen to. Pity that I cannot understand what they sing. I bought this CD on the Internet, JPC.de, 2003
|Orchestra:||Le Quator, consisting of: Jean-Claude Camors, violin Laurent Vercambre, violin Pierre Ganem, viola Laurent Cirade, cello|
In the twelve pieces on the CD we can hear shards of Mozart, Borodin, Brahms, Tsjaikowsky and others.
|Code:||2003 PER 09|
|CD13:||Film Score Monthly, Vol.6, Nr.4 – Lalo Schifrin, THX 1138|
The original motion picture soundtrack of THX 1138, an SF movie by George Lukas, made in 1969. I bought this CD on the Internet, Buysoundtrax.com, 2004
|Orchestra:||Unknown, but conducted by Lalo Schifrin|
|Code:||2004 PER 10|
|CD14:||A recording of the concert by Saxo Panico and soloists on March 27, 2008 in the Bethaniënklooster in Amsterdam.|
This is a very special performance. Saxo Panico is a saxophone quartet. They made an arrangement of the Pergolesi Stabat Mater for their saxophone quartet. Apart from a few minimal adaptations, they remain totally true to the original composition by Pergolesi. I visited the concert and they gave me a CD. You can listen to it here.
Mariëtte Oelderik, soprano, Marianne Selliger, alto
|Code:||January 2009 - PER 11|
|CD15:||Looking Back over The Baroque – Andreas Pritwitz|
The cd contains baroque music (Pergolesi, Bach, Corelli, Vivaldi, Purcell) with original instruments, mixed with modern instruments and improvisations. Sometimes a bit jazzy, sometimes romantic. I like it very much. Andreas Prittwitz sent the cd (and another one Looking Back over The Renaissance) to me because of Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater Dolorosa (only the first stanza). On Youtube you can watch the video about Pegolesi’s Stabat Mater.
|Orchestra:||The musicians are Andreas Prittwitz, Soprano Saxophone and Clarinet, Krzysztof Wisniewsky and Joan Espina, Violins, Christina Pozas, Viola, Miguel Jiménez, Violoncello, Roberto Terrón, Contrabas|
J. S. Bach, Preludio (Suite Nº1 for Violoncello)
|Code:||October 2010 PER 12|
|CD16:||GLO 5245 Smart had moeders hart bevangen NPU|
This Pergolesi Stabat Mater is sung in Dutch. The translation is from Willem Wilmink.
|Orchestra:||De Nieuwe Philharmonie Utrecht|
Klaartje van Veldhoven, soprano
Wilhelm Friedeman Bach: Adagio & Fuga in d-minor
|CD17:||Stabat Mater Foundation 2013: Pergolesi (Tawfic, Despresz)|
|Orchestra:||Euterpe Baroque Consort|
Ilse Eerens, Soprano
Josquin Despresz, Stabat Mater
|CD18:||Pergolesi Stabat Mater HMA 1951119|
This CD was released in 2011 but the recording is from 1981. I own the CD for a long time and I don’t know why I did not add it before. I am sorry, I don’t remember how I did get it. But I listened it now and I like it very much, especially the voice of René Jacobs. Listen here to the complete recording.
Sebastian Hennig, soprano
|CD19:||CPO 555 103-2 Pergolesi, Stabat Mater Marie-Luise Hinrichs|
This CD was sent to me by Orlando Romulo Sanchez. He is the manager of the concert pianist Marie-Luise Hinrichs. She made the transcription for piano solo of Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater herself. Thank you very much!
Domenico Scarlatti, Sonata in B flat major, Sonata in D minor, Sonata in D minor, Sonata in C major, Sonata in E major