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On this recording they have gone a step further in attempting to recapture the original texture by using two late nineteenth century Pleyel pianos and a period harmonium. This latter can sound a little underpowered and generally I think the balance rather favours the choir; this may of course be due partly to the sheer number of the choral forces [listen -- track 4, 0:00-0:37].

If you heard the soloists performing this in concert, you would find them perfectly satisfactory and as a group, in the various ensemble numbers, they blend beautifully [listen -- track 5, 0:33-1:46]. But on a recording, particularly one which has gone to some trouble to source period accompaniment, you need singers who can respond to the chamber music scale of the music. They must be able to sing the lines with a focused intensity, entirely different from the operatic style of the day. Unfortunately, this does not happen here. The benchmark for all comparisons of this work is Wolfgang Sawallisch's 1972 recording. With a team of singers that included Brigitte Fassbaender and Dietrich Fischer-Diesksau, that recording produced a performance of rare intensity. The soloists on the current disc sing in a pleasant, but generalised manner with a little too much vibrato. None of them really sings with an adequate sense of line. Pleasant enough to listen to, they do not really do adequate justice to Rossini's work [listen -- track 12, 0:05-1:18].

This recording will be liked by those people who admire fine choral singing, but I am afraid that it is not my library choice for a recording of this tricky work, though it does certainly have the advantage of being on one generous disc.

Copyright © 26 December 2003 Robert Hugill, London UK


Rossini: Petite Messe solennelle

HMC 901724 DDD Stereo 80'37" 2001 harmonia mundi sa

Krassimira Stoyanova, soprano; Birgit Remmert, alto; Steve Davislim, tenor; Hanno Müller-Brachmann, bass; Philip Mayers, piano (Pleyel 1869); Philip Moll, piano (Pleyel 1858); Ryoko Morooka, harmonium (Debain 1869); RIAS-Kammerchor; Marcus Creed, conductor

Kyrie; Gloria; Credo; Prélude religieux; Ritournelle; Sanctus; O salutaris hostia; Agnus Dei


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