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Part mass, part cantata, Rossini’s Petite messe solennelle was the most substantial work of his final years. It is a beautiful and elegant piece which movingly expresses the composer’s hopes and joys and the fear of his own mortality. ‘Petite’ refers to the scale of the piece: there is no large symphony orchestra or large chorus here, as in Stabat Mater. In its place are 12 voices (including four soloists), two pianos and a harmonium. This performance of the Petite Messe solennelle, recorded in 1983, features four major soloists who are also international opera stars: Italian soprano Katia Ricciarelli and Spanish tenor José Carreras, both experienced performers of Rossini on stage and on record, the mezzosoprano Margarita Zimmermann and the American bass Samuel Ramey. The two pianists on this recording are Craig Sheppard and Paul Berkowitz, and the harmonium is played by Richard Nunn. They are joined by the Ambrosian Singers and the conductor is Claudio Scimone. The 2-CD set also features a performance of the aria ‘Dal tuo stellato soglio’ from Rossini’s Mosè in Egitto, featuring two other legendary artists: the soprano June Anderson and the bass Ruggero Raimondi. Claudio Scimone is respected as an authority on Rossini, and he has made first recordings of many Rossini operas. Margarita Zimmermann and Samuel Ramey also featured on Scimone’s recording of Rossini’s Maometto II.