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Gioacchino Rossini's Petite messe solennelle was composed in 1863 and orchestrated by the composer before his death so that no one else would do it. Premiered publicly after his death, it drew the comment (supposedly from Napoleon III) that it was neither small, nor solemn, not really liturgical. The work indeed benefits from historical performance practice, including the revival of the original version for eight singers, two pianos, and a harmonium, which really challenges the singers to fit their agility demanding lines ...

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