Luigi Boccherini is best known for his delightful chamber music, such as the substantial collections of string quartets, quintets and guitar quintets. His vocal works, including two operas, two oratorios, three cantatas and more than a dozen concert arias, are essentially marginal to his output; though the Stabat mater of 1781, revised in 1800 from a soprano solo setting to one for three voices, is by no means untypical with its intimate mood, its sighing appoggiaturas, and the warmth and graceful pathos of the F minor trio movements which flank the 1800 version. Such features may also be seen as in a clear line of descent from Pergolesi’s Stabat mater.
The Stabat Mater also includes certain features borrowed from earlier works such as the Quartet Op.2 No.1 of 1761, or the Quintet Op.29 No.6 of 1779. By the same token, Boccherini also stole from other works to write the Stabat Mater, including the Quartet Op.41 No.1 in C minor included on this album. Written in 1788, the quartet is structured as a cycle (Prestissimo – Tempo di Minuetto – Flebile – Prestissimo), and includes a melody in the minuet’s Trio that is distinctly reminiscent of the ‘Cujus animam’. Moreover, the Flebile reveals substantial borrowing from the final section of ‘Quando corpus morietur’. These connections with the Stabat Mater explain why the Quartet has been included in this recording.
This album is the latest in a series of recordings for Brilliant Classics by the period-instrument group Ensemble Symposium, who have previously recorded chamber music by Telemann (BC94330), Campagnoli (BC95037) and the Op.26 String Quartets of Boccherini (BC95302), released earlier this year. ‘There are plenty of engaging features in this recording by Ensemble Symposium,’ reported Musicweb International of the Telemann Scherzi Musicali. ‘The playing is attractively textured, well-articulated and closely recorded.’
The Stabat Mater is one of the most moving liturgical works, meditating upon the suffering of Mary during the crucifixion of her Son. It draws forth the deepest human emotions of anxiety, desolation and grief.
Boccherini, known for his vast oeuvre of instrumental chamber music, wrote his Stabat Mater for one solo soprano and string ensemble, an intimate setting for this emotional text.
Soprano Francesca Boncompagni is a specialist in the Baroque repertoire, she worked with William Christie, Philippe Herreweghe, Ottavio Dantone and Federico Maria Sardelli. She recorded for DHM, Virgin, Pentatone and Brilliant Classics.
The Ensemble Symposium plays original instruments, and give a wonderful performance of the String Quartet Op. 41 No. 1.
Liner notes in English and Italian, sung texts included.