Pamela Dellal, mezzo soprano


uncommon intelligence, imagination and textual awareness...



Motet Notes

Giovanni Battista Pergolesi Stabat Mater

Though during his life Pergolesi enjoyed only moderate success, after his death he attained star status.  His music was praised for its freshness and melodic grace.  Even Johann Sebastian Bach acknowledged the power of that work, adapting the music for his cantata Tilge, Höchster, meine Sünden, BWV 1083.  Pergolesi achieved this “natural” or “galant” style by simplifying the counterpoint characteristic of sacred music.  He focused musical interest in the vocal melodies, and diligently reflected the metrical stress and expressive sensibility of the text in the music, thereby ensuring clarity of comprehension.  The instruments play an accompanimental role, often doubling the voice parts and only occasionally providing contrapuntal interest.

Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater is one of the most famous compositions ever written in praise of Mary.  The text dates from the medieval era, and describes Mary, the sorrowful mother, witnessing the suffering of her Son from the base of the cross.  Commissioned by the Most Noble Order of the Knights of Our Lady of Sorrows in Naples for performance during devotional services on each Friday of Lent, Pergolesi’s setting replaced a Stabat Mater by Alessandro Scarlatti that had been performed in Naples for twenty years, and had become outdated.  The significance of Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater, however, extends far beyond the ecclesiastical tradition for which it was originally intended.  Here is a moving, profoundly human picture of a grieving mother.

~Christina Hutten