mon 20/01/2020

Mingardo, Gritton, The English Concert, Bicket, Barbican | reviews, news & interviews

Mingardo, Gritton, The English Concert, Bicket, Barbican

Mingardo, Gritton, The English Concert, Bicket, Barbican

Sober, thoughtful, affecting and edifying: Handel, Vivaldi and Pergolesi at their best

Sara Mingardo: 'With her glasses perched on the end of her pretty nose - which was in turn perched on the end of a very pretty face - a scholarly feel emanated from her divine exhortations'
Before Mozart, there was Pergolesi. The 18th century couldn't get enough of the Neapolitan prodigy. He was the first great tragic musical wünderkind of the Enlightenment, prefiguring what Mozart would become for the 19th century. Like Mozart, Pergolesi died prematurely aged just 26. Like Mozart, Pergolesi was a musical simplifier and distiller, a divine and revolutionary sieve. Like Mozart, Pergolesi's popularity spawned an industry dedicated to mythologising his life and misattributing the music of contemporaries to him. Yet we celebrate Pergolesi's 300th anniversary this year, quite unlike we would Mozart's, with just one piece: the Stabat mater.

It was a small joy to come back to the edifying rigours of this intriguing religious text after months drowning in the immoral philosophical bogs of late Romanticism

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For me the high point of the evening was Sara Mingardo's singing of the Cum dederit of the Nisi Dominus, an electrifying performance of a lovely aria. And, there was the added pleasure of watching a top notch technician make the hard seem effortless; I sat admiring her long long notes while she made the sound reach around that large hall when I would have been long out of breath was like watching a stone. I agree the orchestra was in great form. I do not want to take anything away from Susan Gritton, but the next point that made my hair stand up was Sara Mingardo singing Fac ut partem Christi mortem. I should have joined those who rose to applaud her.

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