Riccardo Chailly

Rossini: Stabat Mater

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AllMusic Review by Zoran Minderovic

A masterpiece of nineteenth century sacred music, the Stabat Mater is a complex, multi-faceted work, a composition in which Rossini's melodic gift and dramatic genius truly shine. Only an exceptionally subtle performance can do justice to this work, and this performance of Riccardo Chailly conducting the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra successfully captures the essence of this work, expressing the profoundly religious spirit of the music, a spirit that shines through Rossini's beautiful harmonies and melodies. Sensitive to the many splendors of this composition, Chailly nevertheless imposes a unified interpretive conception, a conception based on the composer's fundamental intention: to express the full range of Mary's sorrow at the foot of the cross. There is an extraordinary synergy between the four soloists, the chorus, and the orchestra: under Chailly's direction, the orchestra attains a harmonic balance with the delicate textures of the voices. For example in the extraordinary "Quis est homo qui non fleret," the orchestra matches the finely nuanced expressivity and refined virtuosity of soprano Barbara Frittoli and mezzo Sonia Ganassi, whose performance blends crystalline precision and exquisite warmth. Particularly powerful is the soprano aria "Inflammatus et accensus." As Philip Gossett pointed out in the liner notes, this aria, in an inspiring performance from Frittoli, is a "choral invocation of the day of judgment" "set against the humanity of the Virgin." The four soloists are exceptionally convincing in the "Introduction (Stabat Mater)" and "Sancta Mater," attaining an extraordinary level of spiritual insight in "Quando corpus morietur," in which Rossini's crystalline harmonies and intricate chromaticism conjure up a musical image of death.

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