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Rossini Petit Messe Solennelle

original March 1864 version

- - as performed in the Paris town house of Comtesse Louise Pillet-Will - -


Hyperion CDA67570


What an evocative introduction to a marvellous recreation of a work which is better known in a fully orchestrated version which Rossini was eventually persuaded to produce, whilst not repudiating his decided preference for the original, brought to us with all the loving scholarship of Robert King.

The joy of this new recreation at Cadogan Hall is that instead of operatic voices, King chooses members of his own Consort of a dozen or so (more tenors only because of the exigencies of vocal indisposition during the sessions...) who do the choruses and solos, ensuring rightness of scale. It is even less controversial than Joshua Rifkin's performances of Bach cantatas on a similarly small scale, which have not established themselves as the norm.

And, to clinch it, the careful selection of contemporary pianos, an 1862 Bosendorfer original and a Graf copy bringing us exactly the sound Rossini would have known and expected. So, hats off to Edmunc Pickering (piano technician) and Viola Scheffel (prononciation coach) for bringing us authentic late Rossini, and totally reversing my reservations about his post-operatic career, and indeed my often muted enthusiasm for mid-19 C sacred music.

The timbres of harmonium and contemporary pianos cleanse the palate and bridge the centuries; sound and style are integral components which coming together ensure a rare pleasure - a disc which will be a strong contender for CDs of the Year lists.

There have been other recordings; with Freni, Pavarotti, Raimondi et al (1970) and another from Lausanne (Corboz), but I don't think either need detain you.

See also http://www.choirs.org.uk/prognotes/Rossini%20Petite%20Messe.htm

and http://www.cduniverse.com/search/xx/music/pid/1169635/a/Rossini:+Petite+Messe+Solennelle,+etc+%2F+Pavarotti,+et+al.htm



© Peter Grahame Woolf