The Fondazione Pergolesi Spontini, which has been devoting itself to the research and performance of Pergolesi‘s music for years now, had his operas recorded live at the annual Music Festival in Jesi. Released on this BD are two productions from Jesi of one almost forgotten opera, Il prigionier superbo, and one of Pergolesi’s most popular works, La serva padrona, combined like they were at the original premiere.
Pergolesi’s first opera “La Salustia” is filled with emotions and dramatic elements. It portrays the battle of two women, their struggle for power and justice. Further, it is the story of failing deceitful plots and mistrust. Young French director Juliette Deschamps, known for various opera productions in Jesi, made the old story come alive on a stage that suggests an ancient palace with large windows, later on the coliseum. The cast features well-loved Pergolesi interpreters such as Serena Malfi, Laura Polverelli or Vittorio Prato. The Accademia Barocca de I Musici Italiani, well-known for productions in historic performance practice, are led by Corrado Rovaris.
Il Prigionier Superbo is a three-act opera seria with six characters — two kings, two princes, two princesses. La Serva Padrona is a two-part comic intermezzo with two singing characters — master and servant. It was performed between Prigionier's acts when they bowed in 1733, as Naples theaters reopened after earthquake-forced closure. Prigionier vanished from the stage, but Serva Padrona grew popular, helped establish opera buffaand helped start a pamphlet war between Italian and French opera supporters in Paris… MARK MANDEL
The world has not yet fully discovered the riches of the impressive music libraries and archives of Portugal. They testify to the often complex trajectories followed all over Europe by a repertoire of splendid pieces, many of them showing the extent to which the Italian style had taken root in eighteenth-century Portugal. The superb mass by Pergolesi recorded here is a highly characteristic example. But the ensemble Turicum wanted to go even further in their exploration of this repertoire, accompanying the mass with performances of works by composers now totally (and unjustly) unknown, such as Antonio Gallassi and David Perez, not to mention Leonardo leo, acknowledged in his own time as a supreme master of sacred music.
Allegri's early Baroque masterpiece Miserere from around 1630 movingly juxtaposes modal chant with tonality, and was so popular that the Vatican refused to allow it to be performed anywhere else - until the 14 year old Mozart broke the Vatican's monopoly by writing it down from memory after attending a performance. Pergolesi's late Baroque masterpiece Stabat Mater for soprano and alto dates from 1736, the year of his death at the age of 26. It was originally written for male voices but since it's hard to find a castrato these days, it's generally performed by two women or by a female soprano and counter-tenor. This performance uses a female alto but in other respects it's very much a period performance - the sound is intimate and the tempos are lively without any sacrifice of spiritual depth. The soloists, soprano Monika Frimmer and alto Gloria Banditelli, sing beautifully without overdoing the vibrato, and their voices are well matched. The disk also contains a brief "Sonata a quattro" by Vivaldi, and another setting of the Stabat Mater, by the late Baroque composer Antonio Caldara from around 1725.(Kenneth Dorter)
The Stabat Mater is a 13th-century Catholic hymn to Mary, which portrays her suffering as Jesus Christ's mother during his crucifixion. Its author may be either the Franciscan friar Jacopone da Todi or Pope Innocent III. The title comes from its first line, Stabat Mater dolorosa, which means "the sorrowful mother was standing". The hymn is sung at the liturgy on the memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows. The Stabat Mater has been set to music by many Western composers.
This anthology of devotional music from 18th-century Venice and Naples offers an interesting and varied programme. Best known is Pergolesi’s Stabat mater, but the settings by Domenico Scarlatti and Bononcini stand well in comparison. The motets by Lotti, Caldara and Alessandro Scarlatti are real discoveries; Norrington’s performances of the latter are particularly fine. Guest’s Pergolesi suffers from a focus of sound which makes the interpretation seem somewhat generalised. However, all these performances give pleasure, while the music is melodically fresh and rhythmically vital.-Terry Barfoot
A classic work of its genre and historical period, Artaserse was premièred in Venice in 1730 by the most famous singers of the day: Farinelli in the role of Arbace, Cuzzoni as Mandane and the castrato Nicolino as Artabano. Following its initial success, Hasse produced two different versions of the work, the first in 1740 and the second in 1760. This world première recording is based on the original Venice version. The exceptional cast features countertenor Franco Fagioli in the role originally taken by Farinelli, his stunning technique making light of the 3-octave range with uniform timbre, remarkable power and striking resonance. Equally memorable is the aria “Pallido sole” sung by Sonia Prina.