Compact Discoveries®
a series of one-hour radio programs produced, written, hosted, and edited
by Fred Flaxman

©2015 by Fred Flaxman

Program 246
"Rossini's Last Sin"

MUSIC: Rossini: excerpt from Petite Messe Solennelle performed by the Orchestra e Coro dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia conducted by Antonio Pappano [Warner Classics 50999 4 16742 2 2, CD2 Track 1]  [under the following]

Hello and welcome to Compact Discoveries. I’m your guide, Fred Flaxman. Stay with me for the next hour and we’ll listen to excerpts from what Gioachino Rossini himself called his “last sin of old age.”

MUSIC: Fades out

Rossini was referring to his Petite Messe Solennelle. In English we would call it his “Small Solemn Mass,” but it is not small, nor is it very solemn.  It takes two CDs to record it all, which is much too long to fit into a one-hour program. This is why I can only bring you excerpts. They were very hard for me to select, since this piece consists of one very appealing tune after another.

The work has more happy tunes than I would expect to find in a mass. At times it feels more like an opera, or even light opera, than a piece honoring the recently departed, which is what it was.

Rossini wrote this piece and some 150 others after a musical silence that lasted nearly two decades. None of these new works were operas. They were songs, piano pieces, and chamber music which Rossini called, with his usual sense of humor, his “sins of old age.”  Even this mass was originally written for only 12 singers, two pianos, and a harmonium — a pump organ.

It was in this form that I first heard Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle, and I loved it immediately. But I felt that someone should orchestrate it and it would sound even better, richer, and more powerful.  Well, that someone turned out to be Rossini himself, and he did this in 1867 around his 75th birthday. It is excerpts from that version which you’ll hear for the rest of this hour, performed by the Orchestra of the National Academy of Santa Cecilia in Rome, conducted by SIr Antonio Pappano. The soprano is Marina Rebeka. Sara Mingardo is the contralto; Francesco Meli, the tenor; and Alex Esposito, the bass. Ciro Visco is the chorus master in this Warner Classics release from 2013.

MUSIC: Rossini: excerpt from Petite Messe Solennelle performed by the Orchestra e Coro dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia conducted by Antonio Pappano [Warner Classics 50999 4 16742 2 2, CD1 Tracks 1,2, 4 -12]

Gioachino Rossini’s Petite Mess Solennelle — his “Small Solemn Mass.”  The Orchestra of the National Academy of Santa Cecilia in Rome was conducted by SIr Antonio Pappano. The soprano was Marina Rebeka. Sara Mingardo was the contralto; Francesco Meli, the tenor; and Alex Esposito, the bass. Ciro Visco was the chorus master.

And that concludes this hour of Compact Discoveries which I called “Rossini’s Last Sin.”  If you missed part of the program or would like to hear it again, you can stream it on demand at compactdiscoveries.com. This is program number 246. And this is your guide to Compact Discoveries, Fred Flaxman. Thank you for listening.

MUSIC: Rossini: excerpt from Petite Messe Solennelle performed by the Orchestra e Coro dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia conducted by Antonio Pappano [Warner Classics 50999 4 16742 2 2, CD2 Track 1]

ANNOUNCER (Tana Flaxman): Production of Compact Discoveries is made possible in part by an anonymous donor from Palm Beach, Florida... and by the financial support of Isabel and Marvin Leibowitz…  Art and Eva Stevens... Shelley and Gilbert Harrison… the CD companies that supply the recordings used…  and ArkivMusic.com  the online store for classical music CDs, DVDs, downloads, and over 10,000 on-demand reissued titles. Broadcast of the programs by public radio stations is made possible by listeners who contribute to those stations. Streaming-on-demand is made possible by PRX, the Public Radio Exchange.

Program Ends at 59:00