Classical home listening: Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia’s Messa di Gloria; Nico Muhly’s The Street | Classical music

Rossini was still in the midst of his hectic opera career (39 operas in 19 years, after which he all but retired) when he composed his Messa di Gloria in 1820. An inveterate self-borrower, he transferred some of his operatic ideas to a religious context. The opening bars, before the chorus’s first “Kyrie”, announce high drama. Rarely performed and requiring five virtuoso soloists, it comes to teeming, idiomatic life in a new recording by the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia under the perceptive direction of Antonio Pappano (Warner), with star soloists: soprano Eleonora Buratto, mezzo-soprano Teresa Iervolino, tenors Lawrence Brownlee and Michael Spyres, and bass Carlo Lepore. A mass of glory, Rossini’s masterpiece lifts the spirits in this radiant performance.

The Street, by the composer Nico Muhly and librettist Alice Goodman (two CDs, KGS), for solo harp, narrator and plainchant, is based on the Fourteen Stations of the Cross. Commissioned with the soaring acoustic of King’s College, Cambridge in mind, it works both as poetic meditation and as a showcase for the the harpist Parker Ramsay, whose initiative it was. One version of Muhly’s work is performed as a harp solo, with the option of following the words, the other is a full performance directed by Daniel Hyde, with the Choir of King’s College and Rosie Hilal’s affecting but unaffected narration. Goodman’s text is characteristically bold, modern and arresting.

Today, Radio 3 marks the BBC’s centenary with Soundscape of a Century, landmarks in the corporation’s history interwoven with music and archive. 11am to 7pm BBC Radio 3.


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