14 March 2018

One of many

If I search it right, IMSLP offers a list of 89 Stabat Maters by different composers so the annual SM performance by Adhoc Baroque has a few years to run yet. This year the composer was Alessandro Scarlatti (his son, Domenico, later wrote a better known setting). The text was by Jacopone del Todi and recounts the grief of mother Mary at the cross of Jesus. It's a deeply touching thought and thus taken frequently as a theme. The work itself comprises 19 short stanzas, sung by soprano and mezzo-soprano, Greta and Maartje, with accompaniment from organ, two violins and cello. The movements were short, often just a single reading of the text, perhaps a minute or two, sung by one or other or both vocalists. I particularly enjoyed the harmonised singing. Greta and Maartje both present well as soloists but I was particularly taken by their harmony singing in this performance: harmonising, contrapuntal, always clear and well formed, deliciously intoned and fluidly melding. The accompanying organ was discrete, the two higher strings playful and the cello firm and forward moving. In the notes, Peter highlights harmonic and melodic twists in this music with echoes in more modern music: he specifically mentions an off-beat melody in one movement which I remember hearing as an oddity (or error?) on the day. Otherwise, the group, with cello replaced by viola da gamba, performed three pieces before interval - a melancholy motet by Stradella, one of 1750 surviving church cantatas from Telemann and a lively playful piece from Buxtehude - with mezzo, soprano and paired voices. Again, some great playing and very satisfying singing of this unpretentious and deeply faithful C17th music. May the series continue till its natural end!

Adhoc Baroque performed Stradella, Telemann, Buxtehude and a Stabat Mater by Alessandro Scarlatti at St Paul's Manuka. The group comprised Greta Claringbould (soprano), Maartje Sevenster (mezzo-soprano), Lauren Davis and Michelle Hicks (violins), Rachel Walker (viola da gamba), Clara Teniswood (cello) and Peter Young (organ, director).

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