Baroque Music VI: Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (1710-1736)

And now, another composer who died too young. Giovanni Pergolesi died at 26, but his music was truly mature and sublime. Deeply influential both in his time and in later centuries, Pergolesi was a major influence on composers from J.S. Bach (who was 25 when Pergolesi was born) to Stravinsky. Bach famously incorporated Pergolesi’s Sabat Mater into various works, but the recent (2018, if you can believe it) discovery of Pergolesi’s Mass in D Major was a revelation–it appears to have influenced one of Bach’s seminal works—Bach’s titanic and sublime B Minor Mass.

Here are both. First up, the atmospheric Kyrie from the D Major Mass. The first prayer in the mass ordinarium, the Kyrie can, but does not always, open the composed mass. It opens this one in spectacular fashion. This is a live performance, one of the first, of what (at least for me) is Pergolesi’s masterpiece.

Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, Mass in D Major: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g2tJ9PWbrtA

Next up, Pergolesi’s Sabat Mater. The quando corpus duet that closes the oratorio is a true marvel of Baroque beauty. Here, it is performed by the French Baroque specialists Les Talens Lyrique, under the baton of the harpsichordist Christophe Rousset and sung by the American soprano Barbara Bonney and the German countertenor Andreas Scholl.

Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, Stabat Mater, Quando corpus morietur: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T5Xr0WDK2ao