It may seem hard to believe, but this performance of Rossini's Petite messe solennelle of 1863, accompanied by two pianos and a harmonium (all period pieces in this recording), is the original version of the work. Rossini orchestrated the mass (which he called "the last sin of his old age") four years later in order, he said, to stop "Mr. Sax and his saxophones" and "Mr. Berlioz with other giants from the modern orchestra" from stepping in. The Dutch vocal quintet Quink added three additional singers for this disc, and the total of eight choristers also accords with Rossini's specifications. The only change is that members of the octet take the solos; Rossini envisioned 12 singers in all -- one for each Apostle. (The premiere apparently also featured some of the last generation of castrati.) Hearing the work this way is a revelation. The mass draws effectively on Rossini's operatic language, with marvelous direct touches such as the repetition of the word "Credo" (I believe) during some of the wordier stretches of the Credo sections at the beginning of the second disc. Despite the decidedly non-operatic forces, Rossini's expressive responses to the mass text come to the foreground in this chamber version. The two instrumental sections marked "Prélude religieux," one for solo piano and one for piano and harmonium, take on unexpected, appropriately mysterious overtones in this setting. The biggest revelation is the harmonium itself, which functions as a kind of substitute orchestra and delivers triumphant blasts in what would orchestrally be tutti sections. Sample and be amazed. Also worth sampling are some of the solo sections. Quink is a virtuoso group that displays extreme precision in pitch control, and that serves them well in a work that would obviously have been performed by singers of the highest skill levels at its premiere. But give a listen to some of the music featuring soprano Mariette Oelderik, for example the "Qui tollis" (CD 1, track 6). She is, if you will, the vocal equivalent of a motorcycle stunt rider who leans her bike over as close as possible to the ground on turns without having things fly out of control. She's quite something, but give her a listen before committing your Visa number to the four Internet winds. This two-disc recording is definitely recommended for those who thrive on the shock of the new, which in this case turns out, better still, to actually be the old.