Petite Messe Solennelle
Gioacchino Rossini (1792 - 1868)
It’s often said that the Petite Messe Solennelle is neither little, solemn nor especially liturgical in spirit. Even Rossini’s own notes would suggest that he himself inclined to such a view: "Dear God – behold completed this poor little Mass – is it indeed music for the blest (musique Sacrée) that I have just written, or damned music (Sacrée musique)? Thou knowest well, I was born for comic opera. It contains scant learning, but all my heart. So bless Thee and grant me Paradise! G Rossini – Passy 1863".
Composed for a small musical group, the piece was originally scored for just "twelve singers of 3 sexes – men, women, and castrati", two pianos and a harmonium. It signalled a return to composing after a 30-year retirement, and represents a magnificent feat of creative self-renewal for the seventy-one-year-old composer. It has all the warmth and energy that has become the trademark of Rossini’s work.