This is now my fifth excursion into the fantastic world of Rossinis late works. Once again, all of the compositions come from the Pchs de Vieillesse, or Sins of my old age. Rossini gave this facetious name to the complete series of his late works, written after a long spell of complete abstinence from composition. Particularly when one thinks that the preceding years of silence, depression, and illness could finally be shaken off, thanks to his return to Paris, which gave him back a sense of peace and improved health, it becomes clear how deeply personal and freed from convention these character sketches really are.
For example, just take all of the remaining six pieces from Quelques Riens pour Album (The album of little nothings). Not only their name but also the musical content shows us Rossini as the king of understatement, a sort of Oscar Wilde among composers. He doesnt try to impress the listener with large-scale forms, he portrays a complete character with wit and brevity, without a seconds worth of pretention, so that the listener needs no more than three or four minutes of concentration. This defiant attitude, that of a composer who has nothing more to prove, can also be found in the other compositions. These are taken from the Album de Chaumire (The album of the farmers cottage), a title suggestive of rustic outdoor life; not that the title have anything at all to do with the name of the collection, which Rossini probably only invented to make a laughing-stock of his publishers, who were always begging for this kind of album titles for the sake of merchandising….
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