Unheard for 300 years, Italian mass rediscovered

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Lost for about 300 years, a mass by Italian composer Giovanni Battista Pergolesi is proving popular with audiences across Europe after being rediscovered by researchers.

Pergolesi, who died of tuberculosis at the age of 26, is best known for his solemn, sacred music such as “Stabat Mater” but Italian conductor Giulio Prandi says the Mass in D shows a new side of the 18th century composer.

“We did not know the joyful, light character of Pergolesi’s work,” Prandi told Reuters on the sidelines of a concert in Brussels.

“The reaction from the audience has been overwhelming.”

Prandi has performed the mass at concerts in Belgium, the Netherlands and Italy and this month released the first recording of it on CD.

The mass, believed to have been composed around 1731, was stitched together two years ago by Italian musicologists from a patchwork of sources in different libraries.

“The sources were a total mess, scattered all around Europe, and it was very difficult to find an actual version,” Prandi said.

“The concept of lost music is not very clear to many people. Music can be lost, just because it is on the wrong shelf of the library and it stays there for centuries,” he ADDED.

Prandi and his Ghislieri ensemble will perform the mass at festivals in France, Germany and Malta in the coming year.

Reporting by Clement Rossignol and Robert-Jan Bartunek, editing by Ed Osmond