ALBUM TITLE: Bononcini: Missa, Stabat Mater
WORKS: Missa a cinque concertata in sol minore; Stabat Mater a quatro in do minore
PERFORMER: Silvia Frigato, Raffaella Milanesi (sopranos), Andrea Arrivabene (countertenor), Elena Biscuola, Sara Mingardo (contraltos), Valerio Contaldo, Raffaele Giordani (tenors), Salvo Vitale (bass); Concerto Italiano choir & Orchestra/Rinaldo Alessandrini
CATALOGUE NO: OP30537
This disc is a tour de force, a world premiere recording of stunning music splendidly performed. The unjustly obscure Antonio Maria Bononcini was appointed late in life to be maestro di cappella in Modena, a post which allowed him to pour his store of invention into two grand sacred works, a Mass and a Stabat Mater. Conductor Rinaldo Alessandrini engages deeply with the composer’s imagination, opening up his dense counterpoint and delicately binding together his vocal and obbligato lines.
The musical rhetoric of the Concerto Italiano is spellbinding, particularly when band and singers heighten gestures to surge powerfully towards a passage’s final cadence. However heated their delivery becomes – and the Stabat Mater does sizzle – the artists never rush. This is particularly crucial for bringing out Bononcini’s modulations and textures, which, because they shift rapidly, need space to breathe. In this regard contralto Sara Mingardo stands out: the suspense she builds in her Stabat Mater solo, as she sings of mingling her tears with Christ’s, is gripping.
Equally excellent is the sound quality. It was recorded live at the Wiener Konzerthaus, yet no hint of ambient rustling remains, and the engineers combine clarity, warmth and intimacy. It’s a performance that rewards many hearings.