Album review: René Jacobs, Akademie Für Alte Musik Berlin Pergolesi: Septem Verba a Christo (Harmonia Mundi)


Predating Haydn's work on a similar theme, Pergolesi's cycle of seven brief cantatas of two arias apiece represents Christ's meditations on the cross, usually sung by bass, and the responses of the “Anima” or faithful soul, sung in a higher register.

Under René Jacobs, the Akademie Für Alte Musik Berlin skilfully realises the cycle's coded instrumental balance, particularly in the first and seventh cantatas. It's a work delicately balanced between sombre reflection and devotional gusto, which is sometimes jeopardised by the excessive use of da capo rendering some parts overly repetitive, compounding ornamental repetition of individual words with unprofitable reprises of entire passages.

Download: Verbum 1; Verbum 2; Verbum 7