Commissioned by The Marian Consort in celebration of their 10th anniversary, and first performed in 2018, Jackson's is one of the most striking modern settings of this ancient text. With a rich scoring matching that of Scarlatti's setting of the same text, the composer's trademark diversity of texture is much in evidence.
Passages of rich sonority give way to intimate soloistic sections, the lines spiced up by fiery rhythms and occasional arabesques and glissandi. The piece will be a very satisfying challenge for a proficient choir.
My Stabat mater is in one continuous movement, though each stanza has its own discrete musical identity. The scoring, the material and the relationship between music and words - sometimes overtly illustrative, sometimes more broadly allusive and other times purely ritualistic - is different for each verse; but there are also continuities - a structural arc that finds four verses towards the end of the piece set as a soprano solo over a changing ostinato accompaniment, the return of that material in changed form in the penultimate stanza, and little repetitions of melodic figures look backwards and forwards throughout the piece.
As well as a grief-stricken darkness, the poem also has an ecstatic quality and I have tried to reflect that in music that is by turns stark, rich, ornate, declamatory and lyrical, with a redemptive glow at the final turn towards the light. Gabriel Jackson