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Petite Messe Solennelle by Gioachino Rossini


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Gioachino Rossini William Tell Overture
Gioachino Rossini Wind Quartet No 3 in F major
Gioachino Rossini Petite messe solennelle

Andrew Greenwood conductor
Scott Brothers Duo piano, harmonium
Silvia Magagni piano
RNCM Chamber Choir and Soloists

Petite messe solennelle was written towards the end of Rossini’s life. He had retired from composing operas more than 30 years earlier, and described the piece as ‘the last of my péchés de vieillesse’ (sins of old age). The music is deeply personal and wonderfully intimate, a composer drawing on all the compositional faculties that made him so popular decades before.

Written in 1863 for a private performance, this refined and elegant piece avoids the sentimental opulence of most contemporary liturgical works. Rossini joked that he could not decide whether his Petite messe solennelle was ‘musique sacrée’ (sacred music) or ‘sacrée musique’ (damned music), and its jaunty and memorable melodies have enchanted and surprised audiences ever since.

This most naturally witty of composers plays with his audience’s expectations (just as the choral music is settling into an appealing arc, Rossini switches his focus to the soloists, and once you come to terms with that, he switches back, as if he were toying with his listeners.) The music ranges from hushed intensity to boisterous high spirits. So it’s not a work of profound religious insight, but one that is a delightful, life-enhancing musical experience.

An intimate ensemble of RNCM soloists, choir, two pianos and harmonium will bring Rossini’s unashamedly operatic score to life under the watchful eye of Andrew Greenwood. You may have seen Andrew conducting La Vie Parisienne at the RNCM in December 2016 but he has also worked with many prestigious companies including WNO and Wexford Festival Opera. They will be joined by Jonathan and Tom Scott. BBC Radio 2’s Nigel Ogden recently said of the duo: ‘Perhaps there’s a fair bit of telepathy going on between the two brothers, but whatever it is, the end results are fantastic.’

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