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Rossini Petite Messe solennelle Vocal Score
The Petite Messe Solennelle is the finest work of Rossini’s late years. He composed it between 1863 and 1864 at the age of 71 as a commission for Countess Louise Pillet-Will for the consecration of her private chapel, where the work received its first performance in March 1864. Together with the Stabat mater, the mass is one of the composer’s most important sacred works.
The unusual instrumentation with two pianos and harmonium is entirely in keeping with the Neapolitan keyboard tradition of the 18th century which was cultivated in France in Rossini’s day. It forms a distinct contrast to the style of large-scale sacred compositions as written by, for example, Liszt and Bruckner. Rossini explained that he wrote the later orchestral version of the work dating from 1867 out of concern that if he did not do this, other composers might orchestrate the mass too heavily in later arrangements.
The piano reduction by Andreas Köhs is extremely idiomatic and largely preserves the charming character of the unusual instrumentation.
“…it is very difficult to imagine anyone arriving at
a more scholarly, accurate, and practically usefull
text than this.”
(Classics today July 2010)
“No composer in the first half of the 19th century enjoyed the measure of prestige, wealth, popular acclaim or artistic influence that belonged to Gioachino Rossini. His contemporaries recognized him as the greatest Italian composer of his time. His achievements cast into oblivion the operatic world of Cimarosa and Paisiello, creating new standards against which other composers were to be judged. That both Bellini and Donizetti carved out personal styles is undeniable; but they worked under Rossini’s shadow, and their artistic personalities emerged in confrontation with his operas. Not until the advent of Verdi was Rossini replaced at the center of Italian operatic life.”
(Philip Gossett, The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians)1050190
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