The unfamiliar-looking Pergolèse mentioned on the cover of this French budget release is merely Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, represented here by one of his best-known works, his Stabat Mater swan song. The work was finished shortly before Pergolesi's death at age 26 from tuberculosis, and it has traditionally been imbued with a quiet, Bachian reverence. Enter Italian conductor Rinaldo Alessandrini, his Concerto Italiano ensemble, and two of his star singers, who aim to restore what they see as an original intensity to Baroque masterpieces. Alessandrini uses a small group of period instruments that can generate sharply contrasting textures. He takes fast numbers fast and slow numbers agonizingly slow. In all, he offers interpretations of sacred music that are unashamedly operatic. In the lesser-known Vivaldi Stabat Mater included with the Pergolesi here, he doesn't seem so unorthodox for the Vivaldi work, for a single alto with strings, is frankly dramatic. In the Pergolesi, the listener who has heard quieter recordings of the work is asked to hear it a whole new way. The good news is that soprano Gemma Bertagnolli and alto Sara Mingardo are powerful, agile singers who can execute what Alessandrini has in mind without going over the top. The result, for many listeners, will be a Pergolesi Stabat Mater with sweeping emotional power that settles into a tragic serenity at the end. It's not for everyone, but probably everyone who loves this work should hear it. This disc seems to mix two performances included on earlier recordings released on the Opus 111 label. Note that the back cover promises texts and translations, but none are included in this budget release -- there is only a timeline inside.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Stabat mater, for soprano, alto, strings & organ in F major|
|Stabat Mater, hymn for voice, strings & continuo in F minor, RV 621|