By Cathy Fuller
Giovanni Battista Pergolesi died when he was only 26. 18th-century opera lovers were wild about his comic opera “La Serva Padrona” and a Pergolesi craze erupted after he succumbed to tuberculosis.
For a very long time, it was believed that he had managed to write some 320 works, until it was discovered that publishers had been printing pieces by obscure composers with Pergolesi’s name attached. In the end, there are only thirty-six that are certainly his.
One work that has profoundly affected people throughout these last 300 years (born in 1710, this is Pergolesi’s tricentennial year) is the Stabat Mater, written just before he died. There has been great temptation to imagine Pergolesi writing it on his deathbed, bringing up the similar and painful picture of Mozart and his Requiem. But it was apparently conceived in many stages, intended to be sung each Friday in Lent at the church of San Luigi di Palazzo in Naples.
The great philosopher/writer/composer Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote: “The first movement of the Stabat Mater is the most perfect and most moving that has ever issued from the pen of any composer.”
The Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin has a new recording of the Stabat Mater and one of Pergolesi’s Salve Regina settings. The voices belong to soprano Anna Prohaska (left) and mezzo-soprano Bernarda Fink. We’ll hear some of it at 10am on Monday on New and Notable, as well as conductor Valery Gergiev’s recent release on the LSO Live label of music by Ravel with the London Symphony Orchestra.
(Visit ArkivMusic to purchase Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin's Stabat Mater and Gergiev's Ravel.)
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