Hundreds Are There: Tones of the Medieval Latin Poem Stabat Mater, about the grief of mother Mary, standing under the cross on which her son dies. Contemporary sounds often encompass a broader context of mourning the loss of a child or loved one. It becomes clear how differently composers dealt with this text when you compare two recent recordings: the silent sadness dominates Vivaldi’s reflections (1712), where Rossini invokes all the vocal and orchestral powers in a true opera drama (1841).
With his smooth voice, the Polish countertenor Jakub Józef Orlinski keeps the grief in Vivaldi intimate and close to his heart, but also paints a picture of intolerable loneliness. Conductor Gustavo Gimeno has more dramatic arrows to touch the heart in Rossini. And they are spot on. Compassion but also anger is shared here, the grim ‘Amen’ trembles for a long time.
A version of this article also appeared in the newspaper of May 12, 2022