Petite Messe Solennelle
“Have I just written sacred music, or rather, sacrilegious music? I was born for opera buffa, as you well know! Not much technique, a little bit of heart, that’s all.”
Gioachino Rossini, postface to the Petite Messe Solennelle
By referring to the old masters of polyphony and introducing fugues, the romantic piano and bel canto in his work, the composer of the Barber of Seville and the Comte Ory shows the full extent of his art in this original version of the piece, written for 2 pianofortes and a harmonium.
So, is this music serious, or not? It doesn’t matter! Les Elements play the game designed by its composer with cheerful delight.
4 soloists | 2 piano-forte | 1 harmonium
Les Elements chamber choir | 16 singers | Conductor : Joël Suhubiette
For this production of Rossini’s Petite messe solennelle, we wished for a rendition very close to that of the original piece’s. We chose a similar cast to that of its 1864 premiere, which was performed by about fifteen choir singers and four soloists – our team will comprise sixteen singers and four soloists – two pianofortes and a harmonium.
Our approach for this romantic piece is the same approach we choose to perform earlier music: firstly, the choice of period instruments for its interpretation is considered essential; secondly, by showing great curiosity for the historical context of its composition, an era when a large number of musicians rediscovered early music, such as Palestrina’s polyphonies or the work of Bach and Haendel.
The Petite messe solennelle combines many different styles, from bel canto arias to references to early polyphonic writing. Many questions therefore arise regarding its interpretation. We do not pretend being able to perform the piece exactly as it was premiered; however, we do intend to use all available musicological knowledge and expertise in polyphony and early music to highlight and contrast the different writing styles used in the piece.
Les Elements chamber choir frequently performs romantic music. Rossini is well-known to us from singing his Stabat Mater with the Orchestre de chambre de Paris, performing the choir parts of the Barber of Seville with Jean-Christophe Spinosi and his ensemble Matheus, and more recently, performing as choir for the production of the Comte Ory at the Opéra Comique in 2017 with the Orchestre des Champs Elysées on period instruments, conducted by Louis Langrée and staged by Denis Podalydès. It is therefore with great curiosity, and pleasure, that we choose to interpret this very interesting piece for the first time.
25 October 2019 / 20H30 : Festival Concerts d’Automne / Tours (37)
05 November 2019 / 21H00 : Odyssud-Blagnac (31)