4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 6 October 2013
After having listened to this piece a coupe of times, I immediately wanted to sit and write a great list of superlatives, at the risk of producing what possibly might have appeared as nothing more than some overly emotional and sentimental pile of dribble I took a step or two back. So, instead I thought it prudent to wait a while and let the passion calm a little. Unfortunately no such diminution has occurred, this is without doubt some of the most beautiful music I have ever heard, when I first heard Berlioz' L'Enfence du Christ, I was enveloped by a similar feeling, with this however the intensity is even greater. This isn't music you put on to cover the silence of being, or as something just playing in the background. Never mind its ecclesiastical associations or its age, this music inspires, is affirmation of how good life can be and the value of aesthetic beauty, a periodic dose of this and anti-depressants need not apply. If I sound as though I'm gushing, well perhaps I am, but not without reason, listen to it and you'll hear for yourself.
Everything about this harmonia mundi issue is excellent, the quality of the recording is outstanding vis. good balance across the soundstage, just enough warmth without being over done, the qualities and contrast between the voices is really outstanding. As for the Akademie fur Alte Musik, under Rene Jakobs, adequate description defies me, of course with the aforementioned sound quality, each and every instrument is crystal clear, again the balance is superb and a soundstage that seems to go on forever.
In addition to all of that is the enclosed booklet, and libretti, in three translations with the original latin. There is also a very informative biography of the singers, plus an introduction to the piece and some discussion its uncertain origins. Not comprehensive by any means, but more than enough to inspire further investigation.
I am not for a moment trying to suggest this is every bodies cup of tea, however what I am suggesting is don't be put off by its somewhat austere, sombre title come subject matter, rest assured there's nothing remotely depressing where the music or its delivery is concerned. This is uplifting, joyous music, full of hope, verging on the inspirational, absolutely gorgeous melodies and horns used as you've truly never heard before, whether Pergolesi wrote it or not, whoever did, wanted his audience to embrace a sense of renewal, the type of renewal that can only come from the supreme sacrifice of ones own life. That's how this reviewer sees it at any rate. If you don't enjoy this, even just a little bit, I'd be checking myself for a pulse.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 24 March 2013
René Jacobs and his marvelous Berlin players did it again! I did not know,as many others I believe, this Pergolesi work. It's an absolute masterpiece, comparable to his popular Stabat Mater. The Performance of the Akademie l musicians led by Jacobs combine heartfelt passion with musical precision . A joy to listen at
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I like this disc of music recently attributed to Pergolesi, and it is very good to have more of Pergolesi's music available in excellent performances like this. I can't quite share the rapturous enthusiasm of the other reviewers here, though; for me, this is good rather than great music.
Here, Pergolesi has set the Seven Last Words of Christ on the cross for a range of largely solo voices. They are skilful emotional settings and show what a loss Pergolesi's early death was but they don't quite engage me with the power of his Stabat Mater and Salve Regina. It's hard to put my finger on why, but the amazing dissonances of Stabat Mater aren't used much here, for example, and it just doesn't grab me by the throat in quite the same way. That said, there's plenty of very enjoyable music here, there are moments of true pathos and it's still very good music.
René Jacobs and his ensemble are, as one would expect, excellent. The four soloists are very good and Jacobs brings really fine performances from them and the instrumentalists, shaping the music to give it genuine emotion without ever spilling over into sentimentality. It's very finely judged, and beautifully recorded by Harmonia Mundi.
Plenty of others don't share my slight reservations about the music, and they just represent a personal feeling, so don't let me put you off. This is a good disc which is beautifully performed and recorded, and very nicely presented. I can still recommend it – just not quite as warmly as some of Pergolesi's other music.