Stabat Mater dolorosa = Music for Passiontide – Choir of Clare College, Cambridge/ Graham Ross – Harmonia mundi

by | Apr 17, 2014 | Classical CD Reviews

Stabat Mater dolorosa = Music for Passiontide – Choir of Clare College, Cambridge/ Graham Ross – Harmonia mundi HMU 907616, 75:46 ****:

This is a very well-sung album by the Clare College Choristers using a plainchant setting of the Stabat Mater as its basis. This poem is from the thirteenth century and deals with the sorrows of Mary at the foot of the cross. Curiously, though this hymn is given here interspersed with genuine Passiontide anthems, the sequence itself, originally used for the memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows, was never used in Holy Week; in fact, the Council of Trent suppressed it (along with many other very popular sequences) but it was restored by Pope Benedict XIII in 1727 for the Feast of the Seven Dolours of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Be that as it may, it still works as a recording and interesting presentation of this music. The plainchant is lovely and affective, as are most of the anthems. I do have a problem with the more modern Graham Ross pieces as they are so acerbic compared with the other music that it is a strain for the ear to fit them in with the rest of the program. Bach’s one piece, though sung nicely, also seems incongruous with this heavily Roman Catholic-oriented devotion, but you can’t bat a thousand every time. The acoustic is very fine and overall the effect of this album is most gratifying, making for an easy recommendation and a fine way to spend those off-hours of Lent.


1. Stabat mater dolorosa 
2. Victoria: O vos omnes
3. Lassus: Tristis est anema mea 
4. O quam tristis et afflicta 
5. Tallis: In ieiunio et fletu 
6. Stainer: God so loved the world 
7. Quis est homo qui non fleret 
8. Gesualdo: Caligaverunt oculi mei 
9. Ross: Ut tecum lugeam 
10. Pro peccatis suae gentis 
11. Sanders: The Reproaches 
12. Eia, Mater, fons amoris 
13. Lotti: Crucifixus a 8 
14. Sancta Mater, istud agas 
15. Bach: Er nahm alles wohl in acht 
16. Byrd: Ave verum corpus 
17. Fac me tecum pie flere 
18. Tallis: Salvator Mundi I 
19. Bruckner: Christus factus est 
20. Virgo virginum praeclara 
21. Byrd: Ne irascaris; Civitas sancti tui 
22  Face me plagis vulnerari 
23. Ross: Precor te Domine 
24. Christe, cum sit hinc exire 
25. Duruflé: Ubi caritas et amor

—Steven Ritter