It's Trout Week at WQXR, and the chamber music celebration continues on the Choral Mix. This week Kent Tritle presents a variety of large works for small ensembles, including Rossini's Petite Messe Solennelle (Petite Solemn Mass), a prime example of this concept.
Composed in 1863, Rossini prefaced his Mass with a witty note to "le bon Dieu" (the good God) saying: "Behold completed this poor little Mass—is it indeed sacred music [la musique sacrée] that I have just written, or merely some damned music [la sacré musique]? You know well, I was born for comic opera. Little science, a little heart, that is all. So may you be blessed, and grant me Paradise!"
The Kyrie and Et Resurrexit aren't exactly "solemn" as the facetious Rossini specifies in the work's title. The lyrical and sustained vocal writing is often accompanied by an active accompaniment in the pianos and harmonium, creating much energy and tension within the work. In addition to lacking solemnity, Rossini's Mass isn't particularly "petite" in its length either, but does require a rather small ensemble. While most Mass settings usually require a full orchestra and chorus, Petite Messe Solennelle is scored for only 12 singers, two pianos and harmonium. Like most chamber works, the Mass received its premiere in a small venue, the private chapel of dedicatee Countess Louise Pillet-Will.
Chamber music by Brahms, Monteverdi, Andrew Smith, and appropriately, Schubert's song "The Trout" are also featured on the show.
Songs for Male Chorus
Robert Shaw Chamber Singers
Robert Shaw, conductor
Kyrie and Et resurrexit from Petite Messe Solennelle
London Chamber Choir
Laszlo Heltay, conductor
Non voglio amare
Ah che non si conviene
Lamento della ninfa/Amor dov'e la fe
Gwen Toth, conductor
O Flos Regalis and Flos Regalis
Andrew Smith & Anonymous
New York Polyphony
Processional Hymn: O Gloriosi and Conductus: Ave Maria Gratia Plena
Quartets for Four Solo Voices and Piano
New York Vocal Arts Ensemble
Raymond Beegle, conductor