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Giovanni Battista Pergolesi had a tragically short career, living just 26 years and producing most of his mature works over a period of about five years. This compilation of three previously released CDs of performances conducted by Claudio Abbado offers a generous introduction to some of the composer's most popular sacred choral works, plus his Violin Concerto in B flat major. The most familiar and substantial work is the 40-minute Stabat Mater for soprano, alto, and orchestra, which was the most frequently published composition of the 18th century. It is also Pergolesi's most frequently performed and recorded sacred piece, and there is no lack of very fine recorded versions. This one, featuring soprano Rachel Harnisch and contralto Sara Mingardo makes a splendid introduction to the work and should be of interest to anyone who loves this poignant music. Both soloists have expressive voices of exceptional purity and intensity, beautifully suited to this alternately serene and wrenching score. Mingardo... Hide synopsis

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