Friday, 29 July 2011

CD Reviews (The Straits Times, July 2011)

ROSSINI Stabat Mater
Soloists with Chorus & Orchestra of Santa Cecilia Academy
EMI Classics 640529 / *****

From the same forces that produced one of the great Verdi Requiem recordings comes an equally enthralling performance of Rossini’s Stabat Mater. Although a setting a 13th century Franciscan liturgical text about Mary’s anguish at the foot of the crucified Jesus, it did not prevent Rossini, who had retired from writing for the stage, from giving his patented full-blown operatic treatment. After a serious opening, the second to fourth movements resemble pure musical theatre.

Tenor Lawrence Brownlee clearly relishes the march-like swagger of Cujus animam gementem before nailing the high D flat with great gusto. Soprano Anna Netrebko and mezzo Joyce DiDonato sensuously blend as one in their duet Quis est homo, while bass Ildebrando D’Angelo gloriously relives buffo roles in Pro peccatis suae gentis. Together the vocal quartet shines in Sancta Mater, pulling it off with irreverently delightful chemistry. Rossini does however provide moments of sobriety from the excellent choir, and closing with an infectious fugal Amen. If you love opera and choral music, do not hesitate checking out this unusual masterpiece.

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