Thursday, July 29, 2010

Stabat Mater

I see by the old clock on the wall that it is time for a post that includes some beautiful music. I am indebted to Snowdrift Snowfall Snowflake a man in Oregon for this one.

Snowplough Snowcone The man in Oregon is a self-avowed (what a strange term!) atheist who knew Madalyn Murray O’Hair personally, but being an atheist doesn’t mean he can’t appreciate beauty if it’s couched in religious language. That’s not wishful thinking on my part; he said so himself. We have become blogging friends even though we disagree on some very basic stuff.

Recently Snowshoe my Oregon friend included a musical link in his comments section that I am now going to share with you. I realize that it may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but you ought to watch and listen at least once:

“Stabat Mater” by Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, performed by soprano Veronique Gens and countertenor Philippe Jaroussky.

For once, I happen to agree wholeheartedly with Snowball my Oregon friend. The voices and instruments are beautiful.

To learn more about Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (1710-1736), the composer, click here.

To learn more about Veronique Gens, the soprano, click here.

To learn more about Philippe Jaroussky, the countertenor, click here.

If countertenor is a new term to you, it means a male singer who sounds like a woman when he sings (with the exception of the late Bea Arthur, a baritone). Countertenors sing in the contralto, mezzo-soprano, and even soprano ranges. To learn more about counter- tenors, click here.

According to Wikipedia, Stabat Mater is a thirteenth-century poem written in Latin about the suffering of Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, during his crucifixion. Its title is an abbreviation of the first line, Stabat mater dolorosa (“The sorrowful mother stood”). The poem has been set to music by many composers, with the most famous settings being those by Palestrina, Pergolesi, Haydn, Rossini, and Dvořák. Wikipedia includes the full Latin text and also an adaptation (not a literal translation) in English. It should be said that halfway through, this poem about Mary turns into a prayer to Mary.

Neither my friend Snowscape Snowtire in Oregon nor I can appreciate the Stabat Mater text in the same way a Roman Catholic believer might, he being atheist and I being Jewish-Metho-Bapti-costal, but we both can and do appreciate the beauty of the musical composition and the performance. An odd thing about this particular performance was that it occurred on Christmas Day -- because the text refers to something that happened on Good Friday. Another odd thing is that I am sharing it with you near the end of July. Or perhaps it is not odd at all, but an indication of the timelessness of its subject.

Here is another depiction of the same subject, this time a visual one. It was painted in 1482 by Italian artist Pietro Perugino.

SNOWBRUSH! To learn more about Snowbrush, click here.


  1. Do try the version by these two on YouTube:-

    Andreas Scholl & Barbara Bonney

    It pleased my ears the most!

  2. Why, I'm so glad you liked it,,,uh, what was that name again? Oh, yes, Rinds. I listened to quite a few versions, but settled on this one as my favorite.

    I see that you only have one response to this post, and it from the redoubtable Jinksy. No doubt, hundreds of people were here, but when they clicked on the link to my blog, that were so enchanted that they forgot to come back to your blog to leave a response. Either that, or they decided that they had rather have their eyes gouged in and their teeth yanked out before they ever visited either of our blogs again.

  3. that is it snowbird and disease ridden bob

  4. I knew you would drop by, Putz. Without you, what would we do?