John Eliot Gardiner’s recording was made live at the Göttingen Festival in 1988 … the exhilaration and intensity of the performance come over vividly, with superb singing from both chorus and an almost ideal line-up of soloists … as for the Monteverdi Choir, their clarity, incisiveness and beauty are a constant delight.(Penguin Guide)
This disc brings together recordings made in the 1980's as part of a reduction of three original discs down to two. At the same time, the original fine recordings have been remastered to good effect with added depth and space. This makes a particularly important improvement to the Coronation Anthems which previously came over as sonically lacking ideal breadth, depth and recorded weight in Zadok. The ears adjusted after that.
At last there is a Haydn Stabat mater within easy reach. The piece is seldom performed and even more rarely recorded, and this despite the fact that it contains some of the composer's most rich and deeply felt writing. One of the few works not written to order (Prince Nikolaus Esterhazy was less than keen on encouraging the sacred duties of his Kapellmeister) the Stabat mater is also one Haydn himself grew to respect highly, and Trevor Pinnock's performance makes it clear why.
At under an hour this mini-masterpiece should be in every opera-lover's collection. There are scores of versions available but I tend to favour those with a Dido of really starry vocal quality given that her torments lie at the heart of the opera and all other considerations are secondary: Purcell and his librettist Nathum Tate make little of Aeneas's psychology and the other roles are all supplementary, reflecting upon Dido's plight, even to the extent of some suggesting that the Sorceress is her alter ego.