Almost unbearable in plangent magic
What a piece of work this is. I have had this version for a while, and recently bought the David Daniels, Biondi Europa Galante version, Pergolesi Stabat Mater Salve Regina because of the glorious seduction of the Daniels/Biondi/Europa Galante team on the Vivaldi – Stabat Mater, Etc, principally because Daniels is the countertenor par excellence for me.
However, trying to compare these 2 versions this wins, despite the fact of Daniels on the other. Kirkby’s ethereal purity of voice wins out big time for me over Röschmann, but Daniels, ah Daniels takes the biscuit over Bowman, on the solo countertenor sections, though the blend of Kirkby and Bowman together, how their voices weave, is utterly beautiful. – as is the richer, fleshier blend of Daniels and Roschmann – but for me Roschmann is far too sumptuously voluptuous for this piece – not to mention Europa Galante take the music with such bounce, it is almost terpsichorean. Full of vibrancy, brio, opulence – operatic and theatrical.
To come back, however to Kirkby, Hogwood, Academy of Ancient Music and Bowman. Well, to be most particular, come back to Kirkby. In her vocal lines the spiritual, sacred nature of the piece is expressed most tenderly, most yearningly,. However flamboyant and brilliant the music itself is, in the weaving of its lines, this is ultimately NOT an operatic piece, there is a sense of loss, and grief and desolation not to mention surrender which is there. The Hogwood et al is more austere, more lachrymosa, more nakedly suffering. I believe the emotion in this version, because as listener I am pulled in to inhabit it. Yes of course the music itself does have an almost muscular spring to it, but the Hogwood reins it in, creating a tension which is appropriate, whereas Europa Galante go bouncy castle, which feels wrong as if it wrongs the nature of the piece. Unlike the Vivaldi Stabat Mater mentioned earlier the Europa Galante Pergolesi does not break and melt my heart
This Hogwood version is a piece of devotion, the Galante an artwork suggesting devotion