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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA67108
Recording details: February 1999
St Jude-on-the-Hill, Hampstead Garden Suburb, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Ben Turner
Engineered by Philip Hobbs
Release date: September 1999
Total duration: 45 minutes 30 seconds

'Remarkable and beautiful settings' (Gramophone)

'Heart-melting … full of grace and beauty' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Outstanding performances' (American Record Guide)

'In both works, the solo voices, strings and organ continuo and the 18-voice chorus in the d'Astorga, present this well-conceived programme in a highly attractive and stylistic manner under the expert direction of Robert King, while the recorded sound is wonderfully transparent … It would be difficult to imagine more satisfactory interpretations than these.' (Gramophone Early Music)

'Boccherini's chamber-music output is so prolific—more than 120 string quintets, 100 quartets and almost 50 trios—that few today can know his entire oeuvre. But this setting of the Stabat Mater—in F minor like the famous one by Pergolesi, its evident model—is a little masterpiece: spartanly scored for two sopranos and tenor and accompaniment of four strings and continuo, this "sequence for the Feast of Seven Dolours of the BVM" shares the intimate quality of Boccherini's chamber music, with only rare opportunities for operatic display. The earlier setting by the Spaniard Emanuele D'Astorga, a near contemporary of Handel's, is more overtly flamboyant, yet, with its chorus and mezzo and bass soloists—darker in colour. The King's performances are outstanding, with superb solo contributions from Susan Gritton, Sarah Fox, Susan Bickley and Paul Agnew. Two marvellous discoveries.' (The Sunday Times)

'Another well-deserved hit for this splendid team' (Classic CD)

'SACD versus CD? Better depth, separation and transparency; simply more 'there' (Hi-Fi News)

'Recommandé’ (Répertoire, France)

Stabat mater, Op 61
composer
1800 version
author of text
Sequence for the Feast of Seven Dolours of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The influence of Pergolesi on Boccherini's setting of the Stabat Mater, the sequence for the Feast of Seven Dolours of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is abundantly clear. Like Pergolesi, Boccherini chooses the melancholy key of F minor and a bittersweet mood of tender supplication, juxtaposed with vocal writing that would more normally be associated with opera. The same sighing appoggiaturas and advanced harmony that made Pergolesi's work so forward-looking for its time are still present: even the famous Pergolesi walking bass is heard at the opening of the final section.

Throughout Boccherini's remarkable succession of solos, duets and trios there is a constant flow of invention. Here is writing of extraordinary individuality from a composer, nearing the end of his life, setting one of the most poignant of all sacred texts with an open Christian conviction that comes straight from the heart. The opening, large-scale movement mixes string writing of startling, anguished textures (also showing Boccherini's fastidious eye for expressive detail) with ravishing vocal melancholy. The gentle Cuius animam, still gloriously bittersweet, is interrupted at its conclusion by the second soprano, setting up the melodic Quae maerebat. A winding violin melody introduces the accompagnato-like Quis est homo and a tender Pro peccatis suae gentis, in which Jesus gives up his spirit with exquisite, gentle simplicity. The Eia Mater, fons amoris is particularly striking, the instrumental prelude coloured by Boccherini's favoured cello playing in its rich treble tessitura, the sopranos eloquently and operatically duetting.

The busy vocal trio Tui nati vulnerati is introduced by active string figurations, scales flying, with contrast supplied by a slow, veiled middle section. Virgo virginum praeclara is another masterpiece: the instrumental texture of solo violin, accompanied by pizzicato cello, viola countermelody and the second violin's gently rocking figurations creates a rich cushion of sound for a ravishing soprano melody. The second soprano's Fac ut portem is lyrical in its gentle rocking 6/8 rhythm, followed by the total contrast of the aggressive, triumphant trio Fac me plagis. For Quando corpus, such operatic devices are forgotten: Pergolesi's bass returns in a mood of total submission – all passion has been spent. The bells of paradise gently chime in the violins, and the work closes with Boccherini's serene picture of the world to come. This extraordinary, neglected masterpiece is surely one of the most remarkable sacred compositions of the era.

from notes by Robert King © 1999

Other albums featuring this work
'Boccherini & Astorga: Stabat mater' (SACDA67108)
Boccherini & Astorga: Stabat mater
This album is not yet available for download SACDA67108  Super-Audio CD — Deleted  
'The King's Consort Collection' (KING7)
The King's Consort Collection
MP3 £4.50FLAC £4.50ALAC £4.50 KING7  Super-budget price sampler — Deleted  
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