[Re-construction by Malcolm Bruno; Edited by Edward Higginbottom and Robert Ross]
Sophie Daneman & Noemi Kiss (sopranos)
Choir of New College, Oxford
Academy of Ancient Music
World premiere recording made in July 2002 at St Judes Church, Hampstead Garden Suburb, London
Reviewed by: Ying Chang
Reviewed: January 2003
CD No: ERATO 0927-46684-2
Pergolesi died so young (1710-1736) that he makes Schubert look middle-aged while Mozart appears an old man. Not only did this restrict the size of Pergolesi’s output but led to posthumous problems of authenticity. Jumping on the bandwagon of his fame as a composer of beautiful tunes, other composers wrote a body of ’fake Pergolesi’ far larger in volume than the composer’s authentic works. Malcolm Bruno goes some way to setting the record straight. He intersperses instrumental pieces – sonatas for violin, cello and organ (as if they were ’responses’ in the service) – within a mixture of choral works – Psalm settings and one of the Magnificat – that are known to have been included in the 1732 service. Other works are included as plausible conjectures, and all are known to be by Pergolesi.
The performances themselves are predictably very fine – though I find Sophie Daneman’s pure-toned voice better suited to the repertoire than Noemi’s Kiss’s sensuous, creamier tones.Both the Academy of Ancient Music and New College Choir live up to their fine reputations, and the recording captures an open naturalness.
Bach’s B minor Mass and Christmas Oratorio are the most famous examples of pieces we think of today as single, unchangeable entities, that were, in point of fact, later compilations of separate works. While it is doubtful a single recording like this, even with the score’s publication by Bärenreiter, can have a comparable influence, this is in every way, aesthetically and historically, an admirable project, at once delightful to listen to and scholarly. It is rightly flagged as a world premiere. I have no reservations at all – it deserves every success.