Cecilia Bartoli, Diego Fasolis – Agostino Steffani: Stabat Mater (2013)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Front Cover | 1.45 GB | Genre: Classical
Official Digital Download – Source: HDtracks | © Decca
Cecilia Bartoli’s exploration of the music of Steffani continues on from her best-selling recording ‘Mission’ with an album of the celebrated Stabat Mater alongside Steffani’s greatest sacred works for chorus, orchestra and soloists, constituting the most comprehensive collection of Steffani’s sacred choral music on CD. Bartoli leads an array of internationally celebrated singers including countertenor Franco Fagioli, the bass Salvo Vitale and the two young German tenors Daniel Behle and Julian Prégardien. Diego Fasolis conducts the authentic instrument forces of I Barocchisti and the chorus of RSI Lugano
Steffani’s Stabat Mater is his masterpiece, completed shortly before he died in 1728. It has been described as the most powerful expression of his religious fervour and, at almost half an hour, the largest-scale, most complex and heartfelt of his compositions outside his operas. The opening solo “Stabat Mater dolorosa” featured on the ‘Mission’ DVD.
The album is completed by six world premiere recordings of the best of Steffani’s remaining sacred music, including Sperate in Deo and Laudate Pueri. These are scored for orchestra, chorus and soloists featuring two young baroque-specialist sopranos Nuria Rial and Yetzabel Arias Fernandez alongside Behle, Pregardien and Vitale.
Also amongst these world premieres is Non plus me Ligate, a seven-minute solo motet for Cecilia Bartoli.
Composer: Agostino Steffani
Performer: Salvatore Vitale, Cecilia Bartoli, Daniel Behle, Franco Fagioli, …
Conductor: Diego Fasolis
Orchestra/Ensemble: Swiss Radio Chorus, I Barocchisti
Agostino Steffani, roughly contemporary with Arcangelo Corelli, worked mostly in Germany and was known across the continent for his operatic music. Some of it was championed by mezzo soprano Cecilia Bartoli on her daring Mission album. Now Bartoli, properly more in the background as part of a sacred-music ensemble, returns with an album of Steffani’s religious music, for which he was equally renowned. She joins a group of fine soloists, many of whom will be familiar to early music devotees and quite worthy of the broader audience association with Bartoli and the major Decca label will bring. The vigorous instrumental ensemble I Barocchisti, its leader Diego Fasolis, and the commendably sizable Swiss Radio Choir are all top-notch. As for the music itself, the six sacred pieces (psalms, antiphons, motets) that conclude the album give the best idea of the diversity of Steffani’s style. Some are partly in the pure Palestrina traditional unaccompanied choral style; some are in the Italian style of the middle 17th century with grand oppositions of choral groups; and some reflect up-to-the-minute solo vocal writing. Bartoli fans will naturally gravitate toward an example of the latter, Non plus me ligate (track 9), and it’s gorgeous. But Bartoli, whose voice has taken on some fascinating burnished tones that she is allowed to let speak for themselves here, is also featured prominently in the main attraction, the Stabat Mater, which stands somewhat apart from the rest of the music and fell into disuse soon after Steffani’s death, probably because it was already somewhat old-fashioned. But it is old-fashioned in the way that Bach’s music is old-fashioned. Like Pergolesi’s setting of this somber text, it was the composer’s swan song, written at the end of his long life, and it is a tragic work indeed. It might be beautifully paired in performance with the Pergolesi work. Bartoli and her gorgeous lower register have plenty to do, but the spotlight at the end falls on the male soloists, Daniel Behle, Julian Prégardien, and Salvo Vitale, whose trio work is positively sepulchral. This is a gorgeous performance of a work unjustly neglected by music history. Highly recommended.
1. Steffani: Stabat Mater – Stabat Mater Dolorosa
2. Steffani: Stabat Mater – Cuius animam gementem?. O quam tristis
3. Steffani: Stabat Mater – Quis est homo qui non fleret?. Quis non posset
4. Steffani: Stabat Mater – Pro peccatis suae gentis
5. Steffani: Stabat Mater – Vidit suum dulcem Natum
6. Steffani: Stabat Mater – Eja Mater, fons amoris? Fac, ut ardeat ? Sancta Mater? Tui nati vulnerati
7. Steffani: Stabat Mater – Fac me vere tecum flere?. Juxta Crucem
8. Steffani: Stabat Mater – Virgo virginum praeclara
9. Steffani: Stabat Mater – Fac ut portem Christi mortem
10. Steffani: Stabat Mater – Fac me plagis vulnerary
11. Steffani: Stabat Mater – Inflammatus e accensus?. Fac me cruce custodiri
12. Steffani: Stabat Mater – Quando corpus morietur? Fac ut animae donetur
13. Steffani: Beatus Vir
14. Steffani: Non Plus Me Ligate
15. Steffani: Triduanas A Domino
16. Steffani: Laudate Pueri
17. Steffani: Sperate in Deo
18. Steffani: Qui Diligit Mariam