Pergolesi Stabat Mater Violin Concerto AbbadoPergolesi – Stabat Mater, Violin Concerto in B flat major, Salve Regina in C minor

Rachel Harnisch, soprano; Sara Mingardo, contralto (Stabat Mater)
Giuliano Carmignola, violin (Violin Concerto)
Julia Kleiter, soprano (Salve Regina)
Orchestra Mozart
Claudio Abbado, conductor
Archiv, 2010

This recording is only one of the three live-concert albums that Claudio Abbado devotes to music by Giovanni Battista Pergolesi to celebrate the three hundred years from his birth. This album collects Pergolesi’s most famous sacred work, the Stabat Mater, sung by soprano Rachel Harnisch and contralto Sara Mingardo, together with the rarer Violin Concerto in B flat major in the performance of Giuliano Carmignola and the Salve Regina in C major with soprano Julia Kleiter. Pergolesi’s cycle is also an occasion for Abbado to update the Stabat Mater he had recorded in the Eighties featuring Margaret Marshall and Lucia Valentini Terrani as soloists.

Stabat Mater

Abbado’s “new” Stabat Mater gives prominence to the spiritual side of the work in the widest meaning of the term, something that implies that vivid sounds are favoured and that the music conveys an idea of a relatively distant deity, the same kind of divinity that can be found in a medieval, highly spiritual but stereotyped painting. This Stabat Mater is a contemplation of the sorrow of the Virgin, an impression that is accentuated by the silvery and sublime voice of remarkable soprano Rachel Harnisch, while it is the thick voice of contralto Sara Mingardo that expresses more “earthly” feelings, as in Eia Mater, fons amoris.

Violin Concerto

I dare to say that the peculiarity of the Stabat Mater is echoed in the Violin Concerto, at least in the first movements, still characterized by crystalline sounds, but liveliness finally prevails in the Allegro and is constantly present in Giuliano Carmignola, a distinguished and accomplished violinist that offers a brilliant and sympathetic performance.

Salve Regina

With the Salve Regina, we go back to the ethereal sacredness of the Stabat Mater. This time the vocal part is entrusted to fine soprano Julia Kleiter, that has a voice as clear as Harnisch’s, but less purer in the middle register with the result that she makes a less striking impression overall. This does not mean that she is a bad singer and her performance stands out for reverence and adoration, which assume the character of an imploration in the Ad te clamamus.

This album is not one of the warmer tributes to Pergolesi’s music, but since it is characterized by a precise and coherent choice that last to the end, it is valuable and enjoyable as something new.