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Antonio Maria BONONCINI (1677-1726)
Stabat Mater in C minor [40.13]
Cantata Dio e la vergine [16.28]
Antonio Stradella Consort/EstÚvan Velardi
rec. Duomo di Modena, Italy, April 1989 (Stabat mater); Basilica di S.Marco, Milan, May 1989
notes in English and Italian, texts in Latin/Italian and English

The Bononcini family, Giovanni Maria, his sons Giovanni and Antonio Maria and their half-brother Giovanni Maria, all practiced as both composers and players in Modena, near Bologna in northern Italy, from the mid-17th to early 18th centuries. The two sons, born in Modena, both worked in Rome and Vienna also. Antonio Maria spent most of his working life in Modena, having spent a few years working in Vienna as Kapellmeister to the Emperor's brother. He died in Modena in 1726. Grove notes 20 stage works and 40 cantatas as well as other sacred works. This disc contains one of those cantatas, Dio e la vergine, and a large-scale setting of the Stabat Mater. Both are performances and recordings from the late 1980s but still sound perfectly acceptable. Both the instrumental and choral groups are small, eight strings and an organ accompanying eight singers.

The Stabat Mater breaks no new ground, but is none the worse for being in a conventional style. This great and very solemn Latin hymn is set with a touching simplicity. There are solos, duets and quartets for four solo voices, with the group all joining the choruses. Bononcini chooses to spread the piece over sixteen separate movements making this a very substantial work, one which was noted as particularly distinguished by the prominent composer, writer and theorist Giovanni Battista Martini. Antonio Bononcini's cantatas were praised by Charles Burney who reported that the likes of Geminiani preferred them to those of his more productive brother. Certainly, both this cantata and the Stabat Mater reward careful listening, performed as they are with precision and grace. No one’s Bononcini collection will be very large and this bargain issue is worth purchasing. The notes are short but well focused.

The cantata has been recorded in a more obviously spacious acoustic but both works are presented in very clean recordings, remastered in 2016 for this issue. There are several recordings of this Stabat Mater in the catalogue, along with several other works by members of the Bononcini family.

Dave Billinge



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