This is arguably the best Dvorak Stabat Mater now available, The soloists are excellent and the recording is superb. I prefer Herrweghe to the other recordings I have (Naxos and Supraphon) and this is now my recording of choice. It is also Gramophone recording of the month so I am not alone.
I confess that I didn't know Dvorak's Stabat Mater before trying this, which I took a punt on because I have enjoyed Philippe Herreweghe's recordings for many years and wanted to find out what he was doing on his new Phi label. I am extremely glad I did because both the music and the performance here are top-notch.
This is Dvorak's setting of the powerful mediaeval poem of Mary at the foot of the cross, lamenting her son's terrible death. It is therefore quite dark and intense in places, but there's also plenty of Dvorak's warmth and light, too. His wonderful, distinctive harmonic structures and his gift for melody shine here and give real depth and meaning to the text.
Herreweghe and his ensemble do the music proud, engaging intensely with both text and music and shaping the piece with real skill. The soloists are all very good, the chorus and orchestra are excellent and the whole thing is very well balanced in a lovely, rich recording.
I was delighted to discover this piece and this performance. I think it is rather special and recommend it very warmly.