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Franz von Suppé: Missa Dalmatica

Album Summary

>Suppe, Franz v. : Missa Dalmatica, for voices, male chorus & organ
Performers Conductor Ensemble
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Notes & Reviews:

World premiere recording of a recently rediscovered mass, from a composer not usually known for sacred works.

"The operetta composer Franz von Suppé (Francesco Ezechiele Ermenegildo, Cavaliere Suppé-Demelli) was born in Croatia to Belgian parents in 1819, and died in Vienna, the scene of his long, successful career, in 1895. He had strong Italian connections - Donizetti was a distant relative - and, in his early years, Suppé often traveled to Milan where he became acquainted with the music of Rossini and Verdi, whose influences are heard in the Missa Dalmatica.

When, as a mature, middle-aged composer, Suppé came across a Kyrie for a Mass in F that he had composed at the age of 14, he tracked down other movements that had remained in Zadar, the capital of Dalmatia, and revised them substantially. It was performed with success, but was then lost again. In recent years, the musician Sergio Siccardi's discovery of separate parts of the Mass in archives in Zadar and Vienna resulted in the creation of an edition and the present recording.

It's an attractive, serene piece composed with enough contrapuntal skill, dramatic contrasts, and variety of tempos to avoid monotony. The title Petite Messe solonelle would fit Suppé's Mass better than Rossini's. While the Rossini work is 80 minutes long and unabashedly florid in its melodic style, Suppé's never dawdles, setting only the Ordinary Mass, and while its style owes much to Italian opera - the harmonic language is that of Rossini with touches of middle-period Verdi - it often achieves a genuinely devotional tone.

The Missa Dalmatica is scored for male choir, three male soloists, and organ. It's a measure of Suppe's skill and a credit to the performers and engineer of this recording that its all-male scoring works so well. The organ accompaniment doesn't sound like a substitute for an orchestra. The choir has the majority of the work's music, and the quality of the Concentus Choir Bruneck, prepared by chorus master Hubert Hopfgartner, is the main factor in this performance's success. The group sings with liveliness, accuracy, and a nicely blended sound, helped by a warmly live acoustic.

The soloists perform less consistently well than the choir. Roman Sadnik, a tenor with an affecting delivery and good enunciation, is the most extroverted of the three. In the Domine Deus, a nice solo aria, his voice sounds like the real thing: a ringing operatic voice that you'd want to hear in Verdi or Puccini, but elsewhere in his performance there are individual, unsupported notes that make me question his technique's solidity. Baritone Martin Achrainer sings well with a rather anonymous timbre, but the bass Bernhard Spingler often strains in a part that seems to lie too high for him.

I have been playing this CD repeatedly for the pleasure of the music's soothing, affirmative mood. Who would have thought that the composer of the Light Cavalry Overture would have produced this accomplished, sincere sounding sacred work?

Thanks to the Solovoce label for bringing a worthy rarity to light."-Fanfare

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Pfarrkirche Sand in Taufers (Bz)/Italy (06/2009).


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Works Details

>Franz von Suppé (Composer/Conductor) (1819 - 1895) : Missa Dalmatica, for voices, male chorus & organ
  • Performers: Bernhard Spingler (Bass Baritone); Roman Sadnik (Tenor); Martin Ranalter (Organ); Martin Achrainer (Organ)
  • Conductor: Adriano D'Arcy
  • Running Time: 5 min. 21 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Choral
  • Written: 1833