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Music Review - The Organ The Organ

Pergolesi: Vespro della beati Vergine (Vespers)

Pergolesi: Vespro della beati Vergine (Vespers) (Bärenreiter, BA 7675A Vocal Score, 2007) Choir I: SSATB soloists and choir with orchestra and continuo; Choir II SSB soloists and SSATB choir with string orchestra and continuo


This is a compilation of most of Pergolesi's authentic sacred works, rather than a reconstruction of a single work. The volume contains 221 pages of music lasting about an hour in performance, and spanning the whole of his short (six years') composing life. It does not include, however, the Stabat Mater, and omits two masses, an early Salve Regina, a psalm and an antiphon. The composer did not in fact leave behind a complete setting of the vespers, and the preface by Malcolm Bruno explains what might originally have been performed in 1732 following a series of earthquakes in Naples celebrating the city's patron saint – the protector against earthquakes. The preface also offers some interesting performance suggestions, such as incorporating two further psalms in plainsong to separate the three existing psalms. Or plainsong antiphons could be inserted before and after each psalm. Further, Pergolesi's instrumental sonatas could be played, substituting for antiphons. Although Pergolesi would probably have envisaged a choir of about ten, we might well perform this music with many more. Therefore, the editors have marked solo where lines would be best sung by a single voice. This is a vital collection for any choir seriously interested in Baroque music.