Rossini: Stabat mater

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Rossini
LABELS: DG
WORKS: Stabat mater
PERFORMER: Luba Orgonasova (soprano), Cecilia Bartoli (mezzo-soprano), Raul Giménez (tenor), Roberto Scandiuzzi (bass) Vienna State Opera Concert Chorus, Vienna PO/Myung-Whun Chung
CATALOGUE NO: 449 178-2
This extraordinary work had an intriguing genesis. In 1832, Rossini, indebted to a friend at the Spanish court and unable to refuse a request for a Stabat mater from the court priest, completed six of 12 movements. Rossini then fell ill and delegated the completion of the work to Tadolini, a well-known composer of the time. This manuscript was first performed in Madrid in 1833, but a few years later a French publisher threatened to create a scandal over the dual authorship and Rossini was galvanised into a face-saving act of reclamation and furious composition. The new all-Rossini Stabat mater was triumphantly received at its Paris premiere in 1842.

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Chung harnesses the explosive drama of Rossini’s music and enables the powerful quartet of soloists and the orchestra and chorus fully to vent the intense contrasts in this work; from gentle and reflective, through mesmerising a cappella, to the colossal double fugue, ‘Amen’. Scandiuzzi tends to use too much vibrato in his tone and Bartoli occasionally sounds vocally stressed. Orgonasova’s grainy soprano brilliance soars through the ‘Inflammatus’ but the outstanding vocal contribution is from Giménez who delivers an exquisite ‘Cujus animam’ with a meltingly tender and quiet return to the opening section: a Rossinian tenor par excellence. Elise McDougall