ROSSINI Petite Messe Solennelle • Antonio Pappano, cond; Marina Rebeka (sop); Sara Mingardo (alt); Francesco Meli (ten); Alex Esposito (bs); St. Cecilia Academy O & Ch • EMI 4167422 (2 CDs: 83:19 Text and Translation) Live: 11/10-13/2012
One cannot write about this work without noting that it is neither “petite” nor “solennelle,” so let me get that out of the way at the outset. This is much more an entertainment mass than a spiritual one, and as such it is wonderful. It is aRead more very late work, written long after Rossini retired from composing operas, and it is filled with great tunes. Rossini himself wrote: “Dear Lord, here it is finished, this poor little mass. Have I just written sacred music, or rather, sacrilegious music? I was born for opera buffa, as you well know.” It must be pointed out, though, that there are moments of solemnity as well as music of a jaunty nature. The purely orchestral Prélude réligieux pendant is a highly imaginative example. Rossini’s original version is for soloists, chorus, two pianos, and harmonium, but he also wrote an orchestral version for larger performance spaces. I prefer the range of colors in the orchestral version, which is the basis of this recording.
Pappano has continued to grow in stature over recent years, and this will only accelerate that process. He balances all of the elements in this work—shaping the tunes with affection, creating a reflective mood where appropriate while at the same time maintaining the overall jaunty spirit that is at the core of the music. Some have tried to bring an overly devotional approach to it (Chailly, rightly chided by Lynn René Bayley in Fanfare 34:6 for smoothing out all of the music’s edges in his DVD from Leipzig), and Stephen Cleobury on a terrifically sung EMI recording, with Popp, Fassbaender, Gedda, and Kavakos.
Pappano’s is now, in my view, the recording of choice for the orchestral version of the Petite Messe Solennelle. Although the soloists are not as well-known as those on Cleobury’s, and are not quite at that level, they are for the most part more than satisfactory, though I do find Esposito’s bass voice a bit throaty and thin. But the energy, the sheer joy that Pappano clearly infects his forces with, sweeps all before it. The choral and orchestral forces have the music in their DNA, and perform with intense commitment throughout.
EMI provides superb notes by Stephen Jay-Taylor, with a thorough history of the score and of Rossini’s own views about the piece.The duration of slightly more than 80 minutes is very short for two discs, but EMI seems to be pricing it as a single disc, at least at Amazon and ArkivMusic. Although this was recorded over three actual concerts, the audience is in no way intrusive, and the recorded sound is very well balanced between soloists, chorus, and orchestra. This is enthusiastically recommended.
Petite Messe solennelleby Gioachino Rossini Performer:
Sara Mingardo (Alto),
Marina Rebeka (Soprano),
Francesco Meli (Tenor),
Alex Espostio (Bass)
Santa Cecilia Academy Rome Chorus,
Santa Cecilia Academy Rome Orchestra
Period: Romantic Written: 1863; Italy
Average Customer Review: ( 2 Customer Reviews )
Wonderful Singing - Disastrous Background!June 30, 2013By W. Brown (Centerburg, OH)See All My Reviews"As far as the singing goes - this is probably the best version of Rossini's Petite Messe Solennelle; unfortunately, the background noises from the live recording prohibit one from fully enjoying the work. Shame on Emi for not eliminating the noise. I'm confused - is the noise coming from the orchestra, choir, or audience? This could have been a 5-star rating!"Report Abuse
Disappointing recordingMay 8, 2013By Michael W. (Knoxville, TN)See All My Reviews"This might have been a wonderful performance. Unfortunately, the background noises of the live recording prevent any enjoyment. I can't tell if these noises are from the audience, the performers, or both. I'm surprised that EMI would even release this."Report Abuse