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American Record Guide: (07/2018) 
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Arcana
A444



Code-barres / Barcode : 3760195734445

 

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Reviewer: John W. Barker
 

Pergolesi’s ventures into sacred music in the last years of his life (1730-36) have mostly been represented in performances and recordings by the inescapable Stabat Mater. But he composed a lot more, including two settings of the Mass, which have come down to us in varying versions. The Mass in F has been recorded before, but this recording of the Mass in D is claimed as a CD debut.

It consists only of a Kyrie and Gloria and lasts about a half-hour. It is quite enjoyable to listen to, and even stimulating. Inevitably, the solos (for a pair of sopranos) remind one of the composer’s considerable experience in operatic writing; but it is fascinating how much drama Pergolesi could put into his choral writing. It is really very inventive and concentrates in particular on sharp dynamic contrasts between very soft and very loud. The performance here is vital and enthusiastic.

 

The other work here, also announced as a recording premiere, has serious difficulties.  his motet is a full-blown cantata-like work that runs about 41 minutes. Its Latin texts are a string of devotional reflections on the Virgin Mary, with no inherent connection or logic. This work is not mentioned among the miscellaneous sacred works of the composer in his entry in New Grove II, perhaps because it has come down to us in loose manuscript fragments. It had to be “reconstructed” for this recording. The result is really a kind of artificial work that does not stand up well as a Pergolesi composition—it just seems to go on and on as a collection of Pergolesi cliches. Both works were composed for double choirs and orchestra (plus soloists), but I hear none of that in these performances and recordings. The gushing booklet notes could do better in giving precise information on the sources and editing. Pergolesi fans will enjoy the Mass, I think.

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