“Is this divine music or music that is simply divine?”, Rossini wondered irreverently in his preface to Petite messe solennelle (Little Solemn Mass).
This mass marked a return to composing for the ageing musician, who, by that time, was more invested in gastronomy than in opera. Despite the break, his composition had lost none of its sparkle, sparks and explosions. He did not hesitate to take inspiration from unexpected quarters as we can detect a Bach-style polyphony, a faux air of bel canto alla Vivaldi and further on, a vocal ensemble of Mozartian liveliness, all wrapped up in a deliciously surprising piano-harmonium duo.
At the helm of the Ensemble Vocal de Lausanne, Daniel Reuss gives a performance of such depth and clarity and with such vocal exuberance that we can say that one of the 19th century’s greatest masterpieces is truly revealed through this “little” mass.