Gioachino Rossini, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Riccardo Chailly - Petite Messe Solennelle

Published Tuesday 22nd February 2011
Gioachino Rossini, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Riccardo Chailly - Petite Messe Solennelle
Gioachino Rossini, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Riccardo Chailly  - Petite Messe Solennelle

STYLE: Choral
RATING 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9
LABEL: EuroArts 2057428
FORMAT: DVD Music video

Reviewed by Steven Whitehead

Having heard The Barber Of Seville, Beethoven urged its composer, Giaochino Rossini, to concentrate on comic opera as anything else "would do violence to your nature". We do not know how seriously Rossini took that advice although it was only late in his life, after spending years studying the counterpoint of Bach, that he finally delivered this setting of the Mass. As Napoleon III - among many others - observed, it is neither little, nor solemn, nor even particularly liturgical. The performance on this DVD is a concert rather than an act of worship and was recorded at the Leipziger Gewandhaus on the occasion of the 140th anniversary of the composer's death. Under the expert baton of Riccardo Chailly two German choirs (the Gerwandhauschoir and the Choir of the Leipzig Opera) join the Gewandorchester Leipzig to give a sparkling performance, aided by four excellent soloists: Alexandrina Pendatchanska (soprano), Manuela Custer (alto), Stefano Secco (tenor) and Mirco Palazzi (bass). Rather like his beloved Haydn and Mozart, Rossini always composed with a smile on his face and this Mass is, as has been said, far from solemn. Rossini himself expressed his own thoughts on the work in a note on the manuscript: "Dear God. Behold this poor little Mass is now completed. Is it indeed sacred music that I have written, or merely some damned music? Thou knowest I was born for comic opera! Little science but much feeling, that is all. Blessed be thy name, and grant me Paradise!" Like too many concert recordings this DVD will not bear repeated viewing: even with seven cameras at work, everything is visually much of a muchness. However, it is certainly worth hearing again as the music both as composed and as played is simply glorious.

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