Showing posts with label Petite Messe Solennelle. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Petite Messe Solennelle. Show all posts

Sunday, September 30, 2012


"Bravissimo - tutti soprani e alti e tenori e bassi! 

It’s over 40 years since I sang the “little solemn mass” and this evening I (silently) sang along with you. 

The choir positively danced the fugue – what a delight to see and hear. Many thanks for a memorable performance." 

Russell (a friend of Lynn Dowsett, soprano)

And via text message from a keen supporter and friend, to Deborah: “Great performance, thank you so much!”.

Wow!!! That sounded good from where we stood. And the audience applauded with enthusiasm. If you were there, what did you think of the Petite Messe Solennelle performance?

And here is Marian's review for the ODT, published on Monday 1 October:
"...the clamour of "Cum Sancto Spiritu" in which all voices vie for prominence, the energy in "Credo", the triumph in "Et Resurrexit"and the exuberance of "Sanctus" were all successfully infectuous."

Congratulations and thank you to our brilliant soloists, accompanist and conductor!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Petite Messe Solenelle on 29 September

Our next concert: Rossini's Petite Messe Solenelle

Saturday 29 September, 7:30pm at
Knox Church

City of Dunedin Choir and soloists present Rossini's Petite Messe Solennelle with accompaniment on two pianos and organ, conducted by David Burchell. We look forward to performing with our favourite artists:

Emma Fraser - soprano, Amanda Cole - Mezzo-soprano, Matthew Wilson - tenor, Julien van Mellaerts - bass
Pianists: John van Buskirk and Sandra Crawshaw
Organist: Simon Mace

Rossini, the 19th century Italian composer, was known for his sense of humour. So it is that his Petite Messe Solennelle is neither little, nor solemn. Although of a sacred nature, it is unmistakably operatic in style, abounding in memorable tunes and rhythmic vitality. It is an elegant and refined work. 

Tickets are on sale now, available from:
Beggs MusicWorks, Lower Stuart Street
Knox Church Office
Phone Clare (03) 476 2426
or at the door on Saturday

Adults $30, Unwaged $20, Students with ID $10
Accompanied school children enter free. Cash or cheque only.

Exchange your admission voucher for a concert programme at the door.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Another super evening at rehearsal

Wow! What a cracker of an evening it was. We had John van Buskirk there - he's one of the pianists for the Rossini concert on 29 September. So, the evening was dedicated to "Petite Messe Solennelle" - a most pleasant and enjoyable work. It is just glorious to sing! Add to that John's expert accompaniment and you have a winner, for sure.

Have I mentioned before that we laugh a lot at rehearsals? There is always something that cracks us up. Tonight it was the final coda of the "messe solennelle" that was anything but "solennelle"! As John played out the last 9 bars of the 'Agnus Dei', we started sniggering, and finally gave up trying to be polite, and roared with laughter!

You may wonder why? Well, you really had to be there, but I can tell you I now understand why people say Rossini had a brilliant sense of humour. After the final 'dona nobis pacem' you think the movement will end now, except it doesn't...

So rather than trying to describe it to you, have a listen to the beautiful "Agnus Dei' performed here by Brigitte Fassbaender, Mezzo-Soprano, with Katia and Marielle Labeque playing the pianos, the Choir of King's College, Cambridge, and Stephen Cleobury, Conductor

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Talented soloists for "Petite Messe"

Emma Fraser
Announcing our talented soloists for the Rossini "Petite Messe Solennelle" performance on 29 September:

Soprano - Emma Fraser
Mezzo-soprano - Amanda Cole
Tenor - Matthew Wilson
Bass - Julien van Mellaerts

Also, the instrumentalists will be:

John van Buskirk on piano
Sandra Crawshaw on piano
Simon Mace on the organ

Conductor: David Burchell

We are looking forward to sharing this lovely music with all our friends  - don't leave town, mark Saturday the 29th September in your diary. This performance is going to be too good to miss!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Rossini: The Man

Gioachino Antonio Rossini (1792 – 1868)
City of Dunedin Choir is currently rehearsing Rossini's Petite Messe Solennelle for the concert in Knox Church on 29 September (mark this date in your diary!) so we asked our publicist, Scott Blackwell, to do the research and tell us more about this composer:

Gioachino Antonio Rossini was renowned both for his musical genius and his last-minute, skin-of-the-teeth composing antics.

“Wait until the evening before opening night. Nothing primes inspiration more than necessity, whether it be the presence of a copyist waiting for your work or the prodding of an impresario tearing his hair. In my time, all the impresarios in Italy were bald at 30,” he is quoted as saying in an undated letter.

Born in northern Italy in 1792, just three months after Mozart’s death, he was the son of a poor musician and a singer at a time when Italy as we know it did not exist. The year of his birth was also the year when France’s revolutionary war swept through the disparate states which made up the Italian peninsula, at a time when less than 3 percent of its inhabitants spoke Italian and almost 70 percent of its people were illiterate.

His musical education from his parents was supplemented by singing lessons from a priest. Young Gioachino had a good voice and his uncle, a butcher, suggested he should be castrated to preserve it, but his mother would not allow it. At 14, he was admitted to the Accademia Filarmonica of Bologna and studied cello, piano and counterpoint.

Music in Italy was in decline, like its economy, and the young Rossini found much to admire and emulate in the German composers Mozart and Haydn, and he won prizes for his compositions.

A friend of his parents, an impresario in Venice, had been let down by a German composer who did not produce the new work he had promised, so Rossini stepped in at the last moment and wrote a one-act farce, La Cambiali di Matrimonio. Other works followed, including La Petra del Paragone, which premièred in September 1812 at La Scala and had 53 performances in its first season, when Rossini was just 20.

Three years later, he produced his comic opera masterpiece The Barber of Seville – said to have been written in just 16 days – and worked solidly at comic and dramatic opera for the next 17 years, producing an average of two operas a year, but occasionally one every two months. One feature of his work is the use of the gradual but continuous crescendo, which earned him the nickname of “Signor Crescendo”.

For the beautiful female stars of his opera, he produced a new kind of aria which showed off the full colour of the voice, the virtuoso style now known as coloratura. He is regarded as – if not the inventor – then at least the best known early exponent of the style. A 20th-century critic described the “patter” songs as a “spinning top”, going so fast it creates an illusion of standing still. His operas would make Rossini rich while he was still relatively young, and allowed him to tour his works throughout Europe. In London in 1824, eight of Rossini’s operas were performed.

He was offered more than 100 pounds an hour for singing lessons at a time when the best music teachers earned one pound and he and his wife Isabella, earned an appearance fee of about 50 pounds just for attending dinner parties. They were the Brangelina of the age.

In Paris in 1824, he signed a contract for vast sums to write exclusively for the Paris Opera and the Theatre des Italiens.

William Tell, the last of his 39 operas, was performed in Paris in 1829, marking the end of this period of his life. He spent much of the remaining 40 years until his death in Paris in 1868 (aged 76) living in Italy and France surrounded by admirers in his “salon” of rich aficianados, artists and composers including Liszt, Verdi, Gounod, Bizet and Saint-Saëns. Here he developed his reputation for caustic wit. He was almost always courteous, except about Wagner, whose music he once described by sitting on the piano keyboard:

“One can't judge Wagner's opera Lohengrin after a first hearing, and I certainly don't intend to hear it a second time.”

He had decided, at the age of 37, not to write again for the theatre. William Tell was to have been the first of five operas for the Opéra, but after the revolution of 1830, the government set aside his contract.

The reasons for his musical silence remain only suppositions. Some cite his legendary laziness as the cause, while others point to the Parisian hostility to his work – still others his illness due to gonorrhea, which he contracted around age 20. Whatever the cause, during these 40 years, he wrote little music but in his last few years, he once again turned on the tap, producing a few works of substance including the Petite Messe Solennelle (1863). Rossini wrote on the manuscript, which can be seen at La Scala:

“Dear God, here it is finished, this poor little Mass. Is this sacred music which I have written or music of the devil [musique sacree or sacree musique]? I was born for opera buffa, which contains little learning but a lot of emotion. A little science, a little heart, that's all. Be blessed, then, and admit me to Paradise.”




Scholes, Percy A. The Oxford Companion to Music (10th edition). Oxford University Press, London.

Kobbe, Gustav. Complete Opera Book. GP Putnam’s Sons, London, 1925.

Steen, Michael. The Lives and Times of the Great Composers. Icon Books, Cambridge, 2003.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Petite Messe Solennelle

This evening we started rehearsing Rossini's Petite Messe Solennelle for our concert at the end of September.

The Petite Messe Solennelle is the most substantial of the works written during Rossini’s Indian summer of composition. It was composed in 1863 for private performance and is scored for four soloists and chorus, with harmonium and piano accompaniment. It was not heard in public until 1869, the year after his death, when it was performed in the composer’s own orchestral version at the Théâtre Italien. The work’s title is misleading, since the Petite Messe Solennelle is neither petite nor particularly solemn. It lasts well over an hour, and despite the religious text is unmistakeably operatic in style, in common with the Stabat Mater of twenty years earlier. The music ranges from hushed intensity to boisterous high spirits, and abounds in the memorable tunes and rhythmic vitality for which Rossini became justly famous.

Performed by the Moscow Oratorio
Politechnical Museum, Moscow, May 2011
1. Kyrie (Choir).
2. Gloria (Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass and Choir).
3. Domine Deus (Tenor).
4. Quoniam tu solus sanctus (Bass).
5. Cum Sancto Spiritu (Choir).
6. Credo (Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass and Choir).
7. Sanctus (Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass and Choir).
8. O salutaris hostia (Soprano).
9. Agnus Dei (Alto, Choir).

Artistic Director and conductor: Alexander Tsaliuk
Accompanists: Alexander Velikovsky, Natalia Zlobina

Soloists: Ludmila Shilova - soprano, Leonid Bomshteyn - tenor, Evgeniy Liberman - bass, Gia Beshitaishvily - tenor, Alexandra Saulskaya-Shulyatieva – alto