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Giaochino Rossini – Chorus for mixed voices (1857) – "O salutaris hostia" (Stuttgart Vocal Ensemble)

Rossini is often considered to be, above all, a secular composer, and, to be honest, some of his holy masses are, well, not exactly „holy“; the most obvious example are the two masses I posted several months ago: „Messa di Gloria“ and „Messa di Milano“ which, if it were not for the text and some genuinely spiritual music, could pass off as cantatas or even operatic material. This motion is contrasted, however, by a number of pieces that, if not exactly on par with more well-established sacred music, are surprisingly (for a composer who has „Il barbiere“ and „L’italiana“ in his resume) beautiful invocations of the holy sphere, including the present simple but breathtaking prayer for mixed chorus, composed around 1857.

„O salutaris Hostia“ or „Oh, saving Host“ is a section of one of the Eucharistic hymns written by St. Thomas Aquinas for the Feast of Corpus Christi. He wrote it for the Hour of Lauds in the Divine Office. It is actually the last two stanzas of the hymn „Verbum supernum prodiens“. Rossini, however, only sets the first verse a verse rendering of which is provided below:

O saving Victim, open wide
The gate of Heaven to man below;
Our foes press on from every side;
Thine aid supply; Thy strength bestow.

The music itself is thoroughly beautiful and affecting, though, among this sheer musical splendor, three sections stand out in my opinion: 1:06 which finds the men extending the final note of the phrase into a reprise of the main theme; 2:10, a stunning concentrato that combines the women’s ornamented music with the more stern responses of the men, all the while developing an intense crescendo of sound (it almost saddens the listener that Rossini decides not to overstretch the music, returning to the „da robur“ theme); the ending at 3:14, ideally understated, serves as a perfect final word for the whole piece. Throughout Rossini successfully plays with the vocal dynamics, so successfully, in fact, that is not immediately apparent that the piece is unaccompanied.

Stuttgart Southwest German Radio Vocal Ensemble is the first and, probably, the last version of the piece that I would want to hear, as the chorus works superbly, bringing true harmony to the proceedings. Hope you’ll enjoy :).

P.S. It is also obvious that this is the first time that I attempted to create an animated score. I do hope that it works well :).

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15 Kommentare

  1. Aimee Gray 31/01/2010

    We sang it in F#min, way nicer!! 🙂

  2. ancillaindigna 22/06/2010

    This is beautiful! Your comments are perfect, especially the first few lines. Thank you.

  3. scottwoo79 06/11/2011

    ….. superb superb interpretation and delivery… *standing ovation

  4. gmh952 31/10/2013

    Bravo!! Bravo!! Superb performance!

  5. philip rostek 23/01/2014

    so beautiful. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Hervör Hardrada 29/04/2014

    Could you send me this sheet music?? 🙂 please???? 🙂 I'd be so thankful! 

  7. Fazelcp 14/09/2015

    It's a real pleasure to sing over this. Thank you very much ^^

  8. Marsha Gibson 30/04/2017

    I recently enjoyed listening to this at a local concert. This morning, I went to youtube in search of the work, so that I could share it on Facebook and yours was the first option. Since I sing, I was very pleased to have the animated score, which worked very well! Your "program notes" are also spot on, in my opinion!

    Thank you!

  9. Bernardo Mariano 27/07/2017

    The painting that appears in the end is Ernst Ferdinand Oehme's 'Procession in the Mist', from 1828.

  10. Onur 15/03/2018

    Amazing soul.. 👏🏻👏🏻

  11. Tom Fuller 01/03/2021

    We sang this in high school back in the sixties, when we could still sing Christian music in public school. It moved me deeply, and still does.

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