One is the superb Stabat Mater of Pergolesi (1736), rightly regarded by scholars as one of the most glorious creations of the Baroque era. The other is the fact that its composer died just a few days after completing this unique work. He was just 26, and these days his tuberculosis could readily have been contained. Might he have been another Mozart? We will never know. Nevertheless, we should be glad that we have this work, especially when we can hear it in as wonderful a performance as this.
The two soloists are excellent, and the outstanding Akademie für Alte Musik plays at the high level we have come to expect. They pull no punches: the soprano conveys, fortissimo, her anguish at “pertransivit gladius” – the metaphorical sword piercing her with grief at the sight of her son’s tragic end. Above all, it’s Pergolesi’s work which shines. The striking thing is that his language is evident – no-one else could have written this piece. It’s at the same time elegant, restrained, lyrical and intensely moving. It’s not Bach, Telemann, Corelli or any other of the great Baroque era composers. If only we could have had more from this brilliant stylist.
This disc is very thoughtfully presented. It also offers works by Vivaldi (his sinfonia Al Santo Sepolcro), and, from another genius of the Baroque, Locatelli’s concerto Il Pianto d’Arianna. If your collection doesn’t include Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater, this is the obvious choice to redress that lack. But it might not be the thing to listen to if you’re feeling a tad blue.