ALBUM TITLE: Pergolesi
WORKS: Stabat Mater; Salve regina in C Minor
PERFORMER: Jörg Waschinski (soprano), Michael Chance (countertenor); Cologne CO/Helmut Müller-Brühl
CATALOGUE NO: 8.557447
Jörg Waschinski’s voice is a rare phenomenon indeed, a true male soprano with a two-and-a-half octave range, tenor G to soprano top C. He’s tonally versatile, equally able to draw an ethereal vibrato-less line as to express deep passion. Both extremes feature in the opening duet, he and Chance squeezing out, with uncanny stillness, the painful sequences characterising the ‘grieving Mother […] weeping by the Cross’ then contrasting with rich intensity as each voice sings alone. Although neither piece strains him to his limit, the purity of sound in Waschinski’s upper range creates a sense of it being high. Modern (high) pitch adds to the otherworldly effect particularly in the opening of the solo Salve Regina. Here, though, his multifaceted tone includes desperate grief in the ‘vale of tears’, a glorious lyricism in the Christian’s entreaty to Mary, and pleading gasps in the final aria.
Müller-Brühl approaches the Stabat mater contemplatively – prayerfully. The opening movement is slow, with strings falteringly detached, reflecting the poignancy of the subject. The lively off-beat rhythms of ‘Quae morebat’ are pained rather than jaunty; the duet ‘Sancta Maria’, has a haunting, timeless quality as it stretches over a minute more than most other recordings. Chance matches Waschinski’s tone, singing more reflectively than in his earlier recording with Gillian Fisher (on Hyperion). Waschinski and Chance create, in a sense, their own benchmark – as close to Pergolesi’s intended castrato sound as, mercifully, modern-day customs allow – and they’re supported by excellent string-playing and recording. Don’t, though, forsake either Fisher/Chance or Kirkby/Bowman (L’Oiseau-Lyre). George Pratt