Jakub Józef Orliński (countertenor); Capella Cracoviensis/Jan Tomasz Adamus
Erato 9029506070 (EP/DVD) 18:25 mins
You’re likely either to love or to loathe Sebastian Pańczyk’s short film which provides a contemporary visual accompaniment to Vivaldi’s Stabat Mater – rather in the manner of a pop or rock music video.
The Polish director’s 20-minute movie updates and reflects on some of the timeless themes of the 13th-century Latin poem – love and violence, sin and salvation, anguish and empathy – but otherwise there is little direct correlation between the visuals and the words. The viewer journeys with the singer-protagonist through brutal scenes set in a melancholy and symbolic landscape of forests and lakes and urban sprawl, all the while (in the words of the poem) ‘his sorrow sharing…his bitter anguish bearing’. Countertenor Jakub Jósef Orliński carries the surreal narrative well enough, with his sultry expressions and James Dean good looks, but the mute acting of the subsidiary characters, the visual clichés and the splatter effects of the opening are all rather amateurish.
Far more powerful is the musical performance. Orliński draws on a range of vocal colours and timbres to illuminate the words with stinging immediacy; his plangent voice is beautifully expressive but never forced. The period-instrument ensemble Capella Cracoviensis under Jan Tomasz Adamus provides stylish and dramatic support.