Co-Organizer for Can Jam '09
Member of the Trade: Paradox
- Dec 6, 2004
Durante: Magnificat In B/D'Astorga: Stabat Mater/Pergelesi: Confitebor Tibi Domine
Here is the mid-priced version for those of you looking for it.
Last week I talked about two albums – one for youngsters and one for “old timers”. This week I bring you an album which is overlooked by almost everyone except music connoisseurs and which contains some of the most beautiful music I have ever had the pleasure of listening to.
G.B. Pergolesi is a name which is synonymous with “Stabat Mater”. In fact, Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater is featured in many films, including the film Amadeus. Amadeus does a great job of putting Pergolesi’s music in its correct setting – a church. While Pergolesi did not exclusively write church music, it is his church music for which he is most known for today. Unfortunately, Pergolesi died at the young age of 26. His earliest datable work was composed when he was 19. Thus, it is highly probable that Pergolesi composed for only 7 years of his life. It is during those 7 years in which Pergolesi composed a setting of the 110th Psalm by the name of “Confitebor tibi Domine”. This Psalm, which appears on this album, links elements of psalmodic melody with ornate instrumentality. Much to the chagrin of his teacher, Pergolesi manages to combine the elements of opera with church music. With this combination Pergolesi manages to transmit the emotional sense of the words with the music he composed. The result falls nothing short of breath taking.
So who was this teacher who did not like opera? This teacher was none other than the eminent Neapolitan composer, Francesco Durante. Durante was considered a learned and didactic person but was unsympathetic to musical forms such as opera, which was very popular at the time. He was also known to be very shabby in appearance but regardless of the way he looked, his music was held in very high regard. The great Johann Sebastian Bach was known to have kept many of his scores in his library in order to study them and copy them out. In fact, most of these copies were originally believed to have been composed by Bach himself. Durante mainly composed church music and was not fond of composing anything else. Durante’s Magnificat is considered by many connoisseurs to be one of the most beautiful choral works ever composed. I would have to agree with them. The Magnificat included in this album was described by Hermann Kretzschgmar in his concert guide of 1888 as “one of the loveliest works of its kind” and as the “ideal of a musical work of praise”. This cantata has four of the six movements set for choir. The second is set for soprano and the fourth is a tenor-bass duo. The result is a glorious and catchy work of art which appeals to many a persons ear and mind (much like the popular opera music at the time
Pergolesi and Durante were both pious individuals. Emanuele d’Astorga was the exact opposite. Astorga was a Baron and came from a very distinguished family - in other words - he was rich, well educated, a nobleman, well traveled and some have claimed he was a playboy. Regardless of whether he is a forefather of Hefner, Astorga was a self-taught composer and never held an official musical post. His works were well liked at the time, much like Durante’s and Pergolesi’s but it was his Stabat Mater which brought him the most fame and recognition. Like Pergolesi, Astorga’s Stabat Mater bears the same synthesis of opera tunes and church music which seemed to be popular at the time. Being a self-taught composer was obviously no hindrance to Astorga as his Stabat Mater conveys an intense feeling of sorrow. Moreover, it is serious and contains a vast depth of musical ideas. Astorga gives particular attention to the art of counterpoint in the choruses of this work, which is evident is his introduction of two themes at once. In short, this Stabat Mater may have had an “amature” compose it but sounds like a work penned by one the most gifted maestros at the time.
“Ok LFF – but what about the performers - Beethoven’s 5th is great but a kazoo doesn’t make it sound as great!” Yeah – I know – I am sure there are some of you who are wondering about the actual performers. The conductor is none other than Thomas Hengelbrock accompanied by the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra and the Balthasar Neumann Choir. In one word summing up the performance – SPECTACULAR! I may be a tiny bit biased since I am a big fan of Hengelbrock, but I really find nothing to complain about in this recording. REALLY!!!! If anyone here can find something to complain about in this recording, please post your impressions because I think the execution is flawless.
The teacher, the student, the playboy and great performers – this album has it all
HIGHLY HIGHLY HIGHLY and let me stress – HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.