Saturday 17 January 2009
St. Michael and All Angels Church, Bramcote, Nottingham
9.30 am - 5.00 pm
This year's Workshop was just for singers and was centred on the Stabat Mater by Domenico Scarlatti. Better known for his prodigious output of keyboard sonatas, Scarlatti's choral music is unduly neglected. This, his greatest choral work, is a glorious polyphonic setting of the beautiful 13th-century Latin poem depicting the Virgin Mary's sorrow at the foot of the Cross.
It is grandly scored in ten vocal parts with organ continuo: 4 sopranos, 2 altos, 2 tenors and 2 basses. The writing is very rich and expressive, with constantly changing textures and tempi - a compositional tour-de-force! Although there are occasional flourishes of soloistic writing, such as the Inflammatus, generally the vocal lines are very manageable, but still presenting the kind of challenge choral singers relish. Particularly exciting are the culminatory sections: Fac ut animae - Let my soul be granted the glory of Paradise - and the rousing final Amen.
To complement it, the Workshop also looked at one or two choruses from the St Matthew Passion by Scarlatti's exact contemporary, J S Bach. The Sinfonia Chorale performs the Passion in Southwell Minster on Tuesday in Holy Week, 7 April 2009.
Programme for the day
10.00 Rehearsal starts
11.15 Tea / Coffee break
11.45 Rehearsal continues
2.00 Rehearsal continues - including a presentation on Scarlatti and Philip Robinson playing a keyboard sonata
3.45 Tea / Coffee break