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Sudie Marcuse
American Record Guide, September 2012

PERGOLESI, G.B.: Stabat mater / Salve Regina / Orfeo (Klepper, Borst) C5130
PERGOLESI, G.B.: Stabat Mater (excerpts) / Laudate pueri (Hofstetter) OC831

These two recordings of works by Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, both centered on his exquisitely crafted Stabat Mater, offer very different performances…I will admit to a clear preference for the Neumeyer Consort recording…both are wonderfully played and sung, both are true to the spirit of this intensely devotional work, and both have moments of breathtaking beauty. © 2012 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide online

René Francois Auclair
La Scena Musicale, September 2012

One of the most beautiful works of the 18th century, Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater never ceases to fascinate and touch audiences. Here, the Stabat Mater is sung by two men, as was the custom during the period. A string ensemble, reduced to a violin by the end, accompanies the two countertenors. This creates a feeling of proximity with the artists. The timbre of their voices being similar, the singers complement each other quite well. We have here an excellent execution by the ensemble, light and seductive, free from the excessive pathos that is too often heard in this celebrated work.…the true star of this album is Valer Barna-Sabadus, who sings soprano. The ease with which he reaches the highest notes while embellishing them with superb ornaments is astonishing. His voice is a constant pleasure, especially in the joyful Laudate Pueri. Quite simply a phenomenon! © 2012 La Scena Musicle Read complete review

James Manheim, August 2012

Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater, his achingly lovely swan song, was most likely written with two male singers in mind. Yet it’s not often recorded that way, and the present release, with a genuine male soprano and alto, represents something rarer still, perhaps because not a lot of male singers can pull off the higher ranges convincingly without belting. Both the singers are billed as countertenors on the album, but Romanian-born Valer Barna-Sabadus…is a true soprano. Check out his soaring lines in the “Cujus animan,” track 2, for the real news on this album. It’s not that he delivers operatic power; plenty of countertenors can do that. It’s the lightness and balance—even a certain soberness—that fit the work to its intended church ambiance. He can certainly execute the blooming operatic style, which he deploys to perfectly good effect in the choral psalm “Laudate Pueri Dominum,” which rounds out the album…Barna-Sabadus’ duets with male alto Terry Wey are gracefully restrained and deeply spiritual. The Neumeyer Consort under Michael Hofstetter, playing historical instruments, keeps the singers front and center but accompanies them sensitively. There are certainly other recordings of the Stabat Mater with greater sentiment, and arguably greater emotional impact, but for sheer vocal beauty and for original use of the male high voice this one is hard to top. © 2012 Read complete review

Dominy Clements
MusicWeb International, August 2012

Whether or not you think you will like this performance—note the word think— depends a good deal on your previous experiences with counter-tenor voices. More often than not performed with a pair of females or perhaps one soprano and a high male voice such as that with Helmut Muller-Brühl on the Naxos labe…Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater is his best known work. It is also beloved in relatively large-scale performances such as that of Claudio Abbado on Deutsche Grammophon…This Oehms Classics recording is an entirely different proposition to that particular example but is in line with recent thinking on the ideal baroque sound.

Michael Hofstetter’s intimate scale of sound and authentic approach is superficially comparable with a highly regarded recording with Rinaldo Alessandrini on the Naïve label…The Mainz acoustic is rather more generous with the present recording, and the overall musical picture has a touch more sparkle and life than that from Naïve though a touch less richness in the lower registers of the orchestra. If, unfamiliar with counter-tenor voices, you were to hear this recording ‘blind’ I suspect you might feel there was something different to what you were used to. That said, you certainly wouldn’t run screaming for the hills on a first impression. Both soloists have a remarkably pure sound and blend very well. Vibrato is used expressively but not hysterically, and the stratospheric heights demanded by the music are spine-tinglingly good. I wasn’t sure if I would like this beforehand, but I was sold almost immediately. There is a quality in the high male voice which seems to suit those trills in the Cujus animam perfectly. While we are not always sure who is taking which solo full credit goes to both soloists.

Hofstetter takes reasonably swift tempi, making for a good deal of drama and excitement in movements such as the Quae moerbat, which makes Muller-Brühl seem rather too genteel in comparison. This is a performance which avoids sogginess at all costs, but also creates a wonderful atmosphere and gives every moment of beauty its due in terms of weight and expression. The accompaniment is sparing and light without being hair-shirt, though fans of a more sumptuous sound may find themselves wishing for a little more depth in the string colours. My personal feeling is that the proportions, set against the sometimes choirboy purity of the voices, is near ideal.

The Laudate pueri Dominum is entirely another experience, with extra winds kicking up the dust and a fine choir adding to a much greater physical mass of sound. This more ‘in your face’ music is good fun, with bouncy ostinati and extra plucked strings adding to the rhythmic drive. There could hardly be a greater contrast with the solemn Stabat Mater, so any depressions you may have been nursing from the first half of the programme are blown away entirely by the end of the second. There is a gorgeous central Quis sicut Dominus with a superbly nuanced choral sound, and the penultimate Gloria Patri is another stunning performance. The memory left is one of remarkable virtuosity, musical agility and skill which you will want to enjoy again and again. This release is a highly rewarding pairing of disparate repertoire with unusual solo timbres, and I think it’s great. © 2012 MusicWeb International

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