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Not so long ago, Pergolesi was known only for his ‘Stabat Mater’ and the buffa intermezzo ‘La serva padrona’. Now several of his operas have appeared on DVD to critical acclaim and recent research suggests the ‘Septem verba a Christo’, its origins long in dispute, is very likely to be another Pergolesi masterpiece. This ‘meditative, didactic oratorio’ (to quote René Jacobs) takes the form of a dialogue between Christ, on the cross, and Anima, the soul, their discourse conducted through a cycle of seven cantatas, each comprising a pair of arias. Pergolesi cleverly leavens the devotional solemnity with inventive variations of da capo form and a diverse palette that features trumpet, horns, harp and obbligato violas, though Jacobs rather plays down the instrumental colour. Bass Konstantin Wolffsings Christ’s arias with a poignant gravitas, while soprano (Sophie Karthäuser), counter-tenor (Christophe Dumaux) and tenor (the affecting Julien Behr) share the soul’s agitated responses, to moving effect.

Graham Lock Read the full review on Agora Classica


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Early Music Today, 2013 - ©Rhinegold Publishing