Despite dying at age 26 of tuberculosis, Giovanni Battista Pergolesi managed to create an enduring masterpiece: his Stabat Mater, the subject of dozens of recordings.

Despite dying at age 26 of tuberculosis, Giovanni Battista Pergolesi managed to create an enduring masterpiece: his Stabat Mater, the subject of dozens of recordings. This so-called Marian Vespers isn't a true composition but an imaginative compilation by Malcolm Bruno, who has arranged fragments from the 18th-century composer's sacred output into a compelling two-hour experience. The conductor and choir are Edward Higginbottom and his boys of the Choir of New College, Oxford, a team that has produced Billboard chart hits with Erato's Agnus Dei anthologies. Their pure tones mix well with the period instruments of the Academy of Ancient Music and such fine soloists as soprano Sophie Daneman. The sound of the music is closer to the virtuosic exuberance of Mozart than the grandeur of the Baroque, and Bruno's compilation not only includes such wonderful set pieces as the familiar Salve Regina but instrumental passages for cello and violin.—BB