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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    




Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868)
Messa di Gloria (ed. Acciai/Gossett)
Anna Caterina Antonacci (soprano); Bernadette Manca di Nissa (mezzo); Francisco Araiza, Robert Gambeill (tenors); Pietro Spagnoli (bass)
Chorus and Orchestra of the Santa Cecilia Academy/Salvatore Accardo.
Recorded at the Auditorio dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Rome on March 1st-2nd, 1992. DDD
WARNER FONIT 0927 43311-2 [64'38]


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Philip Gossett's excellent booklet notes trace the musicological history of this work. Rossini's 'Messa di gloria' was performed in the Church of San Ferdinando, Naples, in March 1820. Only one page of the original manuscript exists (in Brussels), but a complete set of parts lies in Naples Conservatory, and this latter formed the basis of the current edition.

There are two movements for a solo tenor, each intended for a different performer: the 'Gratias' (high and florid) and the 'Qui tollis' (powerful and set lower in the tenor register). Gossett suggests that Rossini was 'helped' by another hand in the contrapuntal sections and that the final section, 'Cum sancto spiritu', was composed by Pietro Raimondi. This movement certainly seemed to stick out to the present writer, and my notes (written before I was aware of the Raimondi factor) refer to a 'stiff old fugue', a 'dour affair' and conclude with the phrase, 'What a shame'.

The 'Messa di Gloria', Rossini's only work written during the period he wrote for the theatre and the first sacred work of his maturity, is generally well-served on this disc. Much is thoroughly Rossinian and it comes as no surprise that a theme from the 'Gloria' reappears in both the Overture and the Second Act Finale to the opera, 'Le Siège de Corinthe'. Indeed, the whole thing takes some getting used to because a lot of Rossinian fingerprints one is used to hearing emerge from the opera pit here turn up in a liturgical context.

The 'Kyrie' is painted with dramatic brush-strokes, and much of the woodwind writing is immediately recognisable as from this source. There is a lovely cor anglais solo in the 'Gratias' and a very musical (if somewhat edgily-toned) clarinet solo in the 'Quoniam'.

The 'Gloria' is presented as a juxtaposition of a chorus of angels with a chorus of joyful shepherds (jaunty as only Rossinian shepherds can be): if you do not expect the dizzy heights of the 'Gloria' from Beethoven's 'Missa solemnis', then you will not be disappointed.

Accardo has amassed a fine line-up of soloists. Anna Caterina Antonacci is a sure, florid soloist in the 'Laudamus,' but it is the range and beauty of Bernadette Manca di Nissa's mezzo in the 'Domine Deus' that impresses.

Francisco Araiza, who has previously recorded this work, is an effective soloist, coping with th difficult lines well. The bass, Pietro Spagnoli, does not have a big voice, which perhaps is just as well.

Salvatore Accardo, leaving his violin in its case, proves a committed advocate. Perhaps this is a labour of love for Maestro Accardo? Tempi seem natural and convincing, and balance is carefully considered. More depth to the recording itself would have been welcome, but the disc remains worthy of investigation at the price. It is a worthy companion to Neville Marriner's account on Philips 434 132-2.

Colin Clarke

 


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