ALBUM TITLE: Rossini
WORKS: Petite messe solennelle
PERFORMER: Julia Lezhneva (soprano), Delphine Galou (contralto), Michael Spyres (tenor), Alexander Vinogradov (bass); Christophe Henry (organ); Accentus; Orchestre de Chambre de Paris/Ottavio Dantone
CATALOGUE NO: V 5409
It is usually thought that the original 1863 setting of Rossini’s late Mass, scored for two pianos and harmonium, is the definitive edition, with the later (1867-8) version for full orchestra considered an arrangement. Musicologist Davide Daolmi, who has recently made a critical edition of the piece, has come to view things differently; he sees the ‘chamber’ version as an intermediate stage and the orchestral setting as the culmination. Either way, both editions have their points, and this is a fine performance of the orchestral version, recorded live in June 2014 at the Basilica of St Denis on the outskirts of Paris. This building provides the recording with a reverberant, ecclesiastical acoustic which might be felt appropriate (though this version’s first performance, in 1869, was given in a theatre), but which in practice introduces a cloudiness into the smoothness and mellowness of the sound itself.
It’s a pity, because the four soloists form a well-balanced quartet, with tenor Michael Spyres eager and dynamic, Alexander Vinogradov’s bass grand and characteristically Russian in quality, and soprano Julia Lezhneva and her contralto colleague Delphine Galou individually prepossessing and jointly spellbinding in the duet ‘Qui tollis’. The choir is lithe and fluent and organist Christophe Henry is full of personality in the Preludio religioso. Conductor Ottavio Dantone keeps the pace up and maintains lucid orchestral textures. George Hall