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Puccini, born 1858, composed his "Messa di Gloria" in 1880, when he was aged 21 (the "Credo" had been already composed and performed as an autonomous piece in 1878), but this really beautiful work is not characterized only by a fresh, instinctive and sincere religious feeling.
The main feature is, in my opinion, a general sense of high nobleness and elegance, joined to an innate theatrical approach.
Everybody knows that Giacomo came from a family strictly connected for generations to music and, in particular, to the role of "Maestro di Cappella" of the "Duomo di Lucca", where he, aged 14, played the organ. Surely, the familiarity with the church music idiom helped Puccini while composing this work. But, obviously, it does not explain the originality of this masterpiece.
In my opinion, the fact that Puccini came from a traditional musical little world allows this composition to better highlight his exceptional and truly talented musicality and originality.
This is a truly Puccinian work and in it we can easily recognize the seeds of what will later plentifully mature in the operatic field.
But, as I have already underscored, here we do not meet a "green" work, but a completely satisfying and involving masterwork. The only youngish fault is a sort of unbalance among the weights of the five sections, from which comes a bit of lack of unitarity that affects the composition.
The composition is great, but its performance here is really outstanding.
This issue presents a couple of marvelous soloists, José Carreras (b. 1946) and Hermann Prey (1929-1998), who further embellish the work with their voices and heartfelt interpretations.
The Ambrosian Singers, as usual, are simply perfect. The Philharmonia Orchestra is attentive, precise and involved.
Claudio Scimone (b. 1934) - usually steadily associated with a different epoch repertory - here reveals an unexpected, for me, true Puccinian vein and his conducting results really idiomatic.
The 1984 DDD sound is excellent, pure and airy.
The CD is generously filled up with two minor, but really interesting, Puccini's works: the "Preludio Sinfonico", composed in 1876, and the "Capriccio Sinfonico", composed in 1883, both praiseworthily reconstituted and revised by Pietro Spada.
As in the case of the Messa, here you will find many features of the later Puccini. The "Capriccio" anticipates many themes we will meet in "La Bohème".
Here Claudio Scimone conducts the Orchestre National de l'Opéra de Monte-Carlo in a very fine and idiomatic performance.
The ADD 1974 and 1978 sound is anyway very good, vivid, clean and warm.
The very thin booklet contains only a brief, but interesting, article in English, German and French.