Album: Philippe Jaroussky, Stabat Mater (Virgin Classics)

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For his third album in a year, Philippe Jaroussky offers a series of 17th-century Italian motets dedicated to the Virgin Mary, in which his angelic counter-tenor is set to the warm, cossetting accompaniment of an early-music ensemble prominently featuring viola da gamba, organ and harpsichord.

They range in tone from the powerfully melancholic descending sequence of Sances' lengthy Stabat Mater Dolorosa, via Casati's poignant Sanctissima Virgo to the more uptempo rhythm of Mattioli's Ave Regina Coelorum. In an odd gender reversal, in two pieces his counter-tenor lines are echoed by Marie-Nicole Lemieux's contralto, but Jaroussky is the star.

Download this Stabat Mater Dolorosa; Regina Coeli Laetare; Sanctissima Virgo; Ave Regina Coelorum