The Stabat Mater (Suffering Mother) is the paramount Christian text of mourning, and the musical setting by Antonín Dvorák (1841-1904) is one of the most substantial and deeply felt of a

The Stabat Mater (Suffering Mother) is the paramount Christian text of mourning, and the musical setting by Antonín Dvorák (1841-1904) is one of the most substantial and deeply felt of all realizations of this ancient liturgical sequence. The Czech composer had every reason to mourn before he finished the piece, as his three young children all died from the time he sketched the first notes in 1875 until he completed the orchestration two years later. This particular version of Dvorák's solemn, sacred masterpiece resonates with special poignance because it was one of the final recordings by conductor Giuseppe Sinopoli—who died at age 54 of a heart attack in the midst of an operatic performance last month. Leading his dark-hued Dresden Staatskapelle here, Sinopoli displays his flair for the long expanse (shown previously in inspired Wagner, Bruckner, and Strauss), with a rendition of the work that rivals Rafael Kubelík's late-'70s Deutsche Grammophon reading for dramatic impact.—BB