Verdi et al. - Messa per Rossini
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Cat No: 4834084
Number of Discs: 2
Release Date: 30th November 2018
ArtistsMaria Jose Siri (soprano)
Veronica Simeoni (mezzo-soprano)
Giorgio Berrugi (tenor)
Simone Piazzola (baritone)
Riccardo Zanellato (bass)
Coro e Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala
2018 also marks 150 years since Gioachino Rossini’s death in 1868. Messa per Rossini was composed in his memory by Verdi and 12 other notable Italian composers. Verdi himself composed the concluding Libera me, which he later used in his own Messa da Requiem. This rare recording represents the work’s triumphant return to the spiritual home of Verdi and Rossini: the Teatro alla Scala in Milan.
“To honour the memory of Rossini I would like the most distinguished Italian composers to compose a Requiem Mass to be performed on the anniversary of his death.” - Giuseppe Verdi
1. Requiem & Kyrie - Antonio Buzzolla (1815–1871)
2. Dies irae - Antonio Bazzini (1818–1897)
3. Tuba mirum - Carlo Pedrotti (1817–1893)
4. Quid sum miser - Antonio Cagnoni (1828–1896)
5. Recordare, Jesu pie - Federico Ricci (1809–1877)
6. Ingemisco - Alessandro Nini (1805–1880)
7. Confutatis - Raimondo Boucheron (1800–1876)
8. Lacrimosa & Amen - Carlo Coccia (1782–1873)
1. Offertorio - Gaetano Gaspari (1807–1881)
2. Sanctus - Pietro Platania (1828–1907)
3. Agnus Dei - Lauro Rossi (1812–1885)
4. Lux aeterna - Teodulo Mabellini (1817–1897)
5. Libera me, Domine - Giuseppe Verdi (1813–1901)
1Requiem & Kyrie (Antonio Buzzolla)
2Dies irae (Antonio Bazzini)
3Tuba mirum (Carlo Pedrotti)
4Quid sum miser (Antonio Cagnoni)
5Recordare (Federico Ricci)
6Ingemisco (Alessandro Nini)
7Confutatis (Raimondo Boucheron)
8Lacrimosa (Carlo Coccia)
9Offertorio (Gaetano Gaspari)
10Sanctus (Pietro Platania)
11Agnus Dei (Lauro Rossi)
12Lux aeterna (Teodulo Mabellini)
13Libera me (Giuseppe Verdi)
Verdi reserved for himself the Mass’s final section, ‘Libera me’, which he subsequently used in his own Messa da Requiem, and it is fascinating to hear that movement in its earlier guise, with minor but telling differences from the music we know today. But the Messa per Rossini is also of huge interest for the light it throws on Italian music of the mid-19th century, a nation still young and searching for a distinctive musical identity.
Inevitably the work lacks musical unity (the ‘Dies irae’ music in Verdi’s ‘Libera me’ is that now familiar from his own Requiem, rather than quoting Antonio Bazzini’s very effective movement for the Messa per Rossini), but the occasional nature of the work and the unique perspectives it offers excuse it from such criticism. However, although the music was completed with extraordinary speed, problems swiftly arose over the proposed performance, and the work was quickly shelved, indefinitely postponed and soon forgotten. Only in 1970 was it uncovered by the Verdi specialist David Rosen, and it eventually received its premiere in Stuttgart in 1988 under international forces led by Helmuth Rilling.
Until now, Rilling’s recording, made with the Stuttgart forces, has been the only commercially available account of this unique work, but now at last, in the sesquicentennial year of Rossini’s death, comes an all-Italian account, recorded live in Milan in November 2017. The starry soloists exude Italian warmth and passion, and the forces of La Scala under their music director Riccardo Chailly are right inside the music’s idioms and on top musical form.
If Verdi’s own contribution inevitably overshadows the other movements, there is nevertheless still plenty of music to admire here. Antonio Buzzolla’s splendidly atmospheric ‘Requiem e Kyrie’ makes a fine opening movement, while Bazzini’s ‘Dies irae’ and Carlo Pedrotti’s ‘Tuba mirum’ are similarly involving. There are some memorable solo movements, including Antonio Cagnoni’s ‘Quid sum miser’ (soprano Maria José Siri and mezzo Veronica Simeoni) and Alessandro Nini’s ‘Ingemisco’ (tenor Giorgio Berrugi here a distinct improvement on the Rilling account).
Coccia’s ‘Lacrimosa’ includes an unexpectedly chirpy fugal section, reflecting his direct links with an earlier, more classical tradition, but for real contrapuntal mastery try Pietro Platania’s ‘Sanctus’. Gaetano Gaspari’s ‘Offertorium’ is surprisingly accomplished, given that he was chiefly notable as a bibliographer, and Lauro Rossi’s ‘Agnus Dei’ is sentimental to just the right degree (again highlighting Siri’s excellent soprano). Baritone Simone Piazzola and bass Riccardo Zanellato are in excellent voice too, and there are some brief but exquisite instrumental solos in Raimondo Boucheron’s ‘Confutatis’ (which at points contains echoes of the storm swirls from Rigoletto).
If in the final analysis the Messa per Rossini fails to match anything in Rossini’s own sacred music output (or, for that matter, Verdi’s), it still adds up to more than the sum of its parts by virtue of the unique insights it gives into a world of Italian music that was fast being superseded by contemporary developments. In a performance as fine and nuanced as Chailly’s, it will whet the appetite of anyone interested in the operatic and vocal music of this period. It is certainly among the most distinctive contributions to this Rossini anniversary year, a long overdue tribute to one of the 19th century’s true greats, at last in a world-class recording by his compatriots.
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