GIUSEPPE VERDI • Libera me for soprano, chorus and orchestra (1869)
GIOACHINO ROSSINI • Stabat mater for four solo voices, chorus and orchestra (1832/42)
End of concert approx. 01:20 p.m.
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On 13 November 1868 the death of Gioachino Rossini devastated the musical world. Giuseppe Verdi invited the twelve most important Italian composers of the time to work jointly on a requiem mass, the so-called Messa per Rossini. In this Requiem he himself took on the composition of the Libera me. However, the planned world premiere in Bologna on the first anniversary of Rossini’s death, did not take place due to adverse circumstances, and the score fell into oblivion. But Verdi took up his composition again, which, in a much larger orchestration, became the nucleus of his Messa da Requiem.
Rossini’s Stabat mater is his first outstanding religious composition. According to Stendhal, after its premiere an enthusiastic priest apparently said to the composer, “Rossini, if you have this work in your hand when you knock at the gate to Heaven, despite all your sins Saintw Peter will have no alternative but to open it immediately.” Nevertheless, the great acclaim that the work aroused in European countries was contrasted by harsh criticism from the north. Heinrich Heine wrote, quoting the critics, “The treatment is allegedly too profane, too sensual, too playful for the sacred subject matter, it is too light, too pleasant, too entertaining,” and he went on to say, “Thus groan the complaints of some heavy, boring, criticasters, who even if not intentionally put on an affectation of excessive spirituality.” At any rate Rossini certainly does not deny his southern sensuality in this sacred work, in which a cappella passages alternate with bravura arias, fugues with bel canto.