21 Oct 2017: Dvořák Stabat Mater

Saturday 21 October 2017 2.30 pm

Wesley Church Centre, Chester CH1 1DA

Dvořák Stabat Mater in piano version

Conductor: Martin Bussey

Soprano soloistEmily Burnett

Alto soloist: Lucy Vallis

Tenor soloistWill Smith

Bass soloistPeter Edge

Stabat Mater for soli, choir and orchestra is a religious cantata by the Czech composer Antonín Dvořák based on the text of Jacopone da Todi’s 13th century poem, which describes Mary’s grief at the death of her son. In 1875, Dvořák’s oldest daughter, Josefa, died only days after her birth. Dvořák began composing the cantata between February and May 1876 in response to the death of his daughter, Josefa, who died only days after her birth in late 1875. He completed a sketch of the entire work but found it too painful to orchestrate or finish any of the movements. Two years later, his second daughter Ruzena, then a toddler, died when she drank from a bottle of phosphorus used to make matches. Shortly after, his first-born son Otakar died of smallpox. The now-childless 36-year old composer returned to the Stabat Mater sketches and completed the work within a month in November 1877. It is one of the towering monuments of choral music.  Although conceived and written on a massive scale, Dvorák’s setting of the Stabat Mater is very personal, focusing almost exclusively on the act of grieving as a path to the comfort of paradise. Whilst it comes from a place of great personal tragedy, it expresses tremendous hope.