Saturday, 9 January 2016


“Good God, behold completed this poor little Mass; is it indeed sacred music [la musique sacrée] that I have just written, or merely some damned music [la sacrée musique]? You know well, I was born for comic opera. Little science, a little heart, that is all. So may you be blessed, and grant me Paradise!” – Gioachino Rossini

Gioachino Rossini’s (29 February 1792 – 13 November 1868) “Petite Messe Solennelle” was written in 1863 and described by the composer as “the last of my péchés de vieillesse” (sins of old age). The witty composer, who produced little for public hearing during his long retirement at Passy, regarded his mass fondly although it was characterised, apocryphally by Napoleon III, as “not little nor solemn, nor particularly liturgical”.

Its first performance was at the dedication (14 March 1864) of the private chapel in the Hôtel of Louise, Comtesse de Pillet-Will, to whom Rossini dedicated this refined and elegant piece, which avoids the sentimental opulence of most contemporary liturgical works, such as those by Charles Gounod. Rossini specified twelve singers in all, with the soloists doubling the SATB chorus, and scored it for two pianos and harmonium. (The second piano plays only occasionally, and then merely doubles the first.

Among the first hearers were Giacomo Meyerbeer, Daniel Auber and Ambroise Thomas, who would succeed Auber as director of the Paris Conservatoire. Albert Lavignac, aged eighteen, conducted from the harmonium. The soloists were Carlotta and Barbara Marchisio, Italo Gardoni and Luigi Agnesi. It has been said that all this piece requires is a small hall, a piano, a harmonium, eight choristers and the four greatest singers on Earth.

Partly for fear that it would be done anyway after his death, Rossini discreetly orchestrated the Petite Messe Solennelle during 1866-67, without losing its candour and subtlety, and the resulting version had its first public performance on 28 February 1869, three months after the composer’s death, and as close as could be to what would have been Rossini’s seventy-seventh birthday at the Théâtre-Italien, Paris. That year both versions were published.

Here it is, performed by the Orquesta Sinfónica & Coro de Galicia under the direction of Alberto Zedda, with María José Moreno, soprano; Veronica Simeoni, mezzosoprano; Yijie Shi, tenor and Mirco Palazzi, bass.
Kyrie (0:39)
Gloria (8:07)
Gratias (10:13)
Domine Deus (14:25)
Qui Tollis (19.55)
Quoniam (26:26)
Cum Sanctu Spiritu (33:47)
Credo (39:13)
Crucifixus (43.33)
Et Resurrexit (46:46)
Preludio religioso (55:31)
Sanctus (1:03:00)
O Salutaris (1:07:15)
Agnus Dei (1:12:39)


  1. Giacomo Meyerbeer is a funny name!
    Herzlich Pippa

  2. Beautiful music,thank You very much.