Pergolesi's Stabat Mater
Giovanni Pergolesi, born on 4 January, 1710, in Iesi, Italy, was an Italian composer, violinist and organist. As one of the most important composers of opera buffa, or 'comic opera', his delightful music went so far as to divide the Parisian musical community for several years as they avidly debated the relative sophistication of 'serious' French opera with Pergolesi's magical Italian offerings.
Pergolesi also turned his hand to a great deal of sacred music, the Stabat Mater being the most renowned of his oeuvre. This choral piece for male soprano, male alto, string orchestra and basso continuo was commissioned by a group of pious and charitable gentlemen in Italy to replace the 'old-fashioned' piece by Scarlatti used for the same service of meditation in honour of the Holy Mary. It's amusing to think of how rapidy public taste must have changed and evolved even at that time.
On hearing the piece German poet Tieck said at the point of the Vidit Suum Dulcem Natum "I had to turn away to hide me tears". Listen to Pergolesi's spell-binding piece on this beautiful recording.