A pleasant disappointment
Felix M. Galvan-Bird, MD | San Juan, PR USA | 06/25/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I am not giving five stars to this magnificent recording because of the complete lack of informa- tion in the DVD box. This is not the sung Stabat Mater that anyone would have expected but an 1847 insrumentation for winds. There is nothing about this on the box. A brief history of this version would have been necessary. In the box, the sections (chapters) are wrongly printed, since Chapter One should be "Stabat mater dolorosa" and not "Cujus animam". In the recording, the chapters numbers and the time are not recorded, so you never know what part is being played because this is not a sung version. But what a pleasant disappointment! Even if the concert took place in a minor basilica with nothing much to show, like the other concerts of this series, the sound recording is so brilliant and this version is so faithful to the original that by the end of the first section one could al- most hear the voices of the singers. This is a very beautiful and important recording of an un- kown version of this very well loved Rossini mas- terpiece, perhaps the most famous of all musical settings of the Stabat Mater, the sequence for the mass for Friday for Passion week or Sorrows Friday."
Incredible music making -- not for the casual listener
Steve Hanks | Tacoma, WA USA | 02/08/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"From reading the other reviews you will know the big surprise about this performance: that it's not the choral version of the Stabat Mater, but rather a transcription made by Rossini himself in 1842(?). And you're not going to like this very much unless you're a great fan of the Stabat Mater, or a great fan of chamber music, or both.But if you are, this is a real gem, and you *must* listen to it -- you will be absolutely amazed. First, the ensemble is certainly unusual: two clarinets, one flute, two oboes, two trumpets, two french horn, one valved trombone, two bassoon, one contrabassoon, one bass clarinet. How did he come up with that?? The textures coming from combining these instruments are strange and wonderful: a trumpet and clarinet doing the duet in Quis est homo, vocally done by a soprano and mezzo was especially odd -- pairings of french horns and bassoons, flute and bassoon, all kinds of things you're not likely to hear in orchestral music nor in more conventional chamber music.Another cool thing is that the ensemble plays without a conductor, meaning you get to see the interplay between the musicians, and also the solo aspect of the performance, as there are no doubled parts. (And for that reason I disagree with a previous reviewer that the video is unnecessary -- I found it riveting.)Bottom line on this one: unless you're pretty hardcore, you ain't gonna like it. But if you like the Stabat Mater you're gonna love it, and if you're a chamber music fan you should first get a choral version of the piece and learn it really well, so you can marvel at what Rossini did in setting his own vocal and choral lines in the context of a truly inspired chamber ensemble.Oh, one last thing. The musicianship is of the very highest caliber. It's worth the price of the DVD just to watch the solo bassoon at work! And the brass players play with remarkable restraint: how can two trumpets, two horns and a trombone keep from drowning out the rest of the ensemble thoroughly? Quite tastefully, it turns out."
Beautiful audio, superfluous video
Steve Hanks | 06/18/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The music and the performance are wonderful, but, unless one enjoys watching the musicians, this DVD might as well be a CD. The video portion consists solely of footage of the orchestra with a few shots of the interior of the church they're playing in (it's not the church on the cover and not an interior to sustain much interest). The DVD has the choice of turning off the video. The 'Stabat Mater' is usually a vocal work, but this version by Rossini is purely instrumental. A website for the 'Jubilaeum' series (www.jubileeconcerts.com) is listed on the cover, but nothing has been put up yet. The producers provide no information on the work or its composer."
Robert G. VanStryland | Denton, TX USA | 07/04/2000
(2 out of 5 stars)
"The title of this release would lead you to expect a performance of Rossini's Stabat Mater as he scored it: soprano, alto, tenor and bass soloists, chorus and symphony orchestra (led by a conductor). What you actually hear is an arrangement for a small wind ensemble - no singers, and, despite the citation, no conductor. This wonderful piece is made far less interesting by such a reduction. Besides, the performance is pretty ragged. Unless you are unusually enthusiastic about wind ensembles, you should save your money."