All choir members are encouraged to practise at home as well as at our rehearsals in order to develop a feeling for the whole work and the general structure of their own voice parts. ‘Note-bashing’ at home to get on top of difficult or confusing passages is especially worthwhile – there often isn’t time in a rehearsal to continue practising single phrases for only one voice part.
You can find commercial recordings of most works we perform by searching the internet – Amazon.co.uk is generally worth a visit. SEE BELOW for details of suggested recordings.
As an alternative, if you use a computer to listen to or download music, you may find one or more recordings of the work on the service you use. In our experience the best range and selection of classical music seems to be on Spotify. There is a good, though less comprehensive, selection of classical music on Napster. Both services require a subscription, unless you are lucky enough to be invited to join Spotify by a subscriber in which case you can get it free (but with adverts!). SEE BELOW for availability of this term’s music.
Practise at home
There are two main ways of learning the notes (or just practising the tricky corners that you may have struggled with at rehearsals).
Method 1- practice CDs
Buy a practice tape or CD which can be played on your home stereo, car player, or even perhaps converted to MP3 to take with you on the Tube? You will be able to select your specific voice part. Most services will give you split parts eg Bass 1 and Bass 2 – on a single CD, but check carefully. Generally high quality recordings and very accurate, some feature real musical instruments playing the part and one series features professional singers. They will also give you the context of the other parts in the background, significantly quieter than your own voice part. The quality option. SEE BELOW for recommended practice recordings
Method 2 – Midi files on your computer
OK, we are into Vauxhall Corsa territory here – fast and functional – also (generally) free! Find the appropriate web page (see below). Depending on your web browser and the web site, etc, you can either download midi files then play them on your computer, or else click them on a webpage and they will play automatically. Again, you can choose your own voice part, including split parts. Midi files can be a bit shrill and are generally less mellifluous; some include a background of the other parts, many don’t. Though usually pretty good these days, they may include the odd error so if it doesn’t sound right it may not be right! Midis can be transferred to an audio CD or an MP3 file, but it isn’t for the faint-hearted, so if you don’t have much privacy around your computer, they may not be right for you. However they are free, instantly accessible and overall an excellent learning tool. If you are new to using midi files, read the really excellent notes and guidance on “John’s downloadable Midi File Choral Music site”: http://www.thehoopers.demon.co.uk/index.html which also has links to several midi file player programmes that you can download free, if you find you need one (you probably won’t, though). SEE BELOW for recommended midi files
Rossini – Petite Messe Solenelle
One recommended recording of the Rossini Petite Messe Solenelle which is reasonably priced and of a good overall standard is one sold by EMI featuring Stephen Cleobury and the choir of Kings College Chapel Cambridge with the Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino under Riccardo Mutti. Just £7-8 or so, and Rossini’s Stabat Mater is also on the recording. (At the time of writing it was available on this page at Amazon.co.uk). Recordings are great to give you a feel for what the entire piece sounds like and how it all joins together, something that is not always possible with the limited time available at rehearsals. This recording features the harmonium and piano accompaniment we will be using in our own concert, rather than the orchestral version. The harmonium gives the piece an oddly haunting quality.
Spotify has at least six(!) different recordings of the Petite Messe Solenelle, including the Kings College Chapel choir recording mentioned above. Disappointingly, Napster doesn’t seem to have any recordings. Please let us know if you find one.
Method 1 – Rehearsal CD
Order CD/Tape from Choral Line at http://www.musicdynamics.co.uk/store/buycline.aspx £10 for CD, £8 for cassette.
Method 2 – Midi files
for each voice part (including the splits) for every movement.
(A) http://gasilvis.net/ from ‘The Silvis Woodshed’ site – scroll down the page, click on the link, download the ‘Zip’ file, double click and play the midi. Lets you adjust the volume of each voice part separately if you have a suitable midi player.
(B) http://www.learnchoralmusic.co.uk/Rossini/Petite-Messe-Solennelle/petite.html – from ‘John’s downloadable Midi File Choral Music site’ (see above) – each part separately, will play in your web browser without needing to download or start a midi program. Recommended.
Music scores – we are using the Ricordi edition, not Novello (it isn’t yet clear if there is any significant difference between these editions)
If you come across better – or just different – alternatives, please use the ‘Leave a Reply’ box below to let us know.