- Stabat Mater for vocal soloists, chorus & orchestra, B. 71 (Op. 58)
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Released in May 2001, shortly after the untimely death of conductor Giuseppe Sinopoli, this live recording of Dvorák's Stabat Mater has taken on added significance as one of Sinopoli's last and grandest musical statements. The 90-minute work for chorus, soloists, and orchestra is the most extended musical setting of this common liturgical text, and its grandeur and intensely dramatic character invite comparison to Verdi's Requiem, composed just a few years earlier. But while the Requiem was an outgrowth of the operatic tradition that occupied Verdi's career, Dvorák's work betrays his mastery of symphonic writing, for which he is best remembered. And the Dresden Staatskapelle, an orchestra with which Sinopoli was closely associated, delivers a commanding performance, with a shimmering string tone and powerful eruptions from the brass at climactic moments. The chorus of the Staatsoper Dresden bring an orchestral intensity to their sound, carrying off a forceful but warm performance of the demanding score. The soloists may not be A-list names, but they are each up to the task: tenor Johan Botha in the Italianate "Fac me vere tecum flere"; bass Roberto Scandiuzzi in the tender "Fac, ut ardeat cor meum"; and especially mezzo-soprano Ruxandra Donose, who sings the stately "Inflammatus et accensus" with a rich, lustrous tone. The sound is nicely detailed for a live performance, with not a hint of audience noise and a dynamic range to raise the roof. The world lost a brilliant man and a great musician when Sinopoli died, but thankfully, he left behind a wealth of intelligent and well-crafted recordings. Here is yet another. It may not be his final recording -- that honor goes to Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos -- but it's close, and it's as good as anything he did.