Giovanni Battista Pergolesi died of tuberculosis in 1736 at the age of 26. Within a few years, his Stabat Mater and Salve Regina were performed throughout Europe. Both pieces get superb performances here from top- notch singers and a small instrumental ensemble, playing in a “historically informed” manner, but with warmth and emotional depth. Robin Blaze is among the world’s elite countertenors and reminds us just how far this exotic species has come since the often cringe- inducing efforts of earlier practitioners. In the Stabat Mater, Blaze’s voice and Elin Manahan Thomas’s soprano seem to be cut from the same cloth, and they blend together exquisitely.
The composer’s posthumous fame led to a booming business in fake Pergolesi, and the G major flute concerto— Florilegium’s director, Ashley Solomon, is the soloist—is an accomplished example. The Sinfonia (for cello and continuo) is authentic: Stravinsky fans will recognize tunes in the final movement that made it into Pulcinella. Florilegium cellist Jennifer Morsches is the featured performer.
The sound is spacious and dimensional, with voices and instruments especially palpable in surround.