Why Rossini stopped composing operas at the age of 37 is still one of music's greatest mysteries. His swan song was "William Tell", premièred at the Paris Opera in 1829 after which he turned his back on the theatre and composed little else but for the Stabat Mater and the Petite Messe Solenelle.
Together with these two substantial sacred works, Rossini also wrote a considerable number of short vocal and instrumental works, mostly for his own enjoyment and that of his friends. Before moving to Bologna in 1836, the composer held weekly soirees in his Parisian home, the musical fruits of which are the pieces on this CD.
Published in 1835 under the title of "Soirees Musicales", these exquisite little gems are not often heard, so this issue is a wonderful opportunity to enjoy these vocal creations full of wit, elegance and charm, but also punctuated by a strong dose of irony and sarcasm. The masterly lyrics are by two of the most influential librettists of the time; Pietro Metastasio and Carlo Pepoli; and the imaginative poetry spurred Rossini to write some absolutely delightful miniatures.
The soloists, ably supported by a bubbly Vignoles, revel in this breezy and joyous repertoire, and their singing constantly oozes confidence and an innate sense of empathy with the composer's joie de vivre. A happy tribute on the 140th anniversary of the death of one of the all-time musical geniuses with first rate sound and presentation.
Copyright © 2008, Gerald Fenech