Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868)
Cantemus Domino [2:41]
Il candour in fuga [1:58]
Eja Mater [4:19]
O salutaris hostia [3:13]
La fede [3:22]
La sperenza [4:53]
La carità [4:27]
Choeur de chasseurs democrats [4:10]
Choeur [4:18]
Preghiera [4:46]
Brindisi [1:45]
I Gondolieri [4:28]
La passeggiata [5:40]
Toast pour le nouvel an [2:23]
O giorno sereno [5:11]
Quartetto pastorale [4:48]
Il Carnevale [2:29]
Roland Keller, Susan Wenckus (piano)
Südfunk-Chor/Rupert Huber, Eric Ericson, Helmut Wolf
rec. Süddeutscher Rundfunk, Stuttgart, 1979, 1987, 1992
original texts and German and English translations included
CARUS 83.324 [65:42]
Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle is surely one of the most original, entertaining and moving of religious choral works. The composer allows his urbane, superficially dapper, almost frivolous manner to relax sufficiently for the listener to perceive the deep feeling that lies behind the music. If you share this view you will be as eager as I was to hear this disc of sacred and secular choral and semi-choral music, mainly from his later years.
I was not disappointed with it, although the first item, a Cantemus Domino for unaccompanied double choir first performed in 1873 at the Birmingham Festival after the composer’s death, is not typical of the rest. Like Il candour in fuga it is written “in the ancient style”. Both could take their places without apology and without causing any surprise in the most conservative of religious services. The Eja Mater for solo bass and choir is an excerpt from the composer’s Stabat Mater but stands up on its own surprisingly well. From then on the mixture tends more towards the secular, ending with an evocation of the carnival. I would doubt whether anyone unaware of the texts and names of the three pieces named Faith, Hope and Charity would suspect the subjects of these items, but they are uniformly delightful. After these items for female voices there are several for the male singers, including a dashing Choeur de chasseurs democrats that ends with the unexpected addition of very loud percussion. The next item, entitled here simply Choeur, is a lament on the death of Meyerbeer in 1864. It is for male voices and percussion and is a suitably affecting piece. The remaining music consists of a mixture of occasional pieces and delightful works, most with piano, suitable for performance at one of Rossini’s salon concerts.
This programme would probably be a pleasure and worth hearing whoever the performers were, but it is especially so in the very polished and idiomatic performances here. The various soloists from the choir are all more than adequate and the piano accompaniments are played with great panache. The recording is clear but not too clinical. There are good notes by Guido Johannes Joerg and the necessary texts and translations. There have been other discs of Rossini’s shorter vocal works but none that I have heard has given as much pleasure as this one.
John Sheppard
There have been other discs of Rossini’s shorter vocal works but none that I have heard has given as much pleasure as this one.