Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Ludwig van Beethoven, James Levine, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra|
Beethoven: Missa Solemnis
Extravagant? Just right!
Joel Buursma | 03/23/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I haven't listened to this recording as closely as some of the other reviewers that have pointed out imperfections in the performance. My perspective is that the performance just plain blows me away, where the Gardiner performance just doesn't seem to muster enough power. (And this is from someone who believes that some of Gardiner's Baroque performances border on the miraculous.)"
By rights this should be a triumph, but it isn't quite
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 02/25/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Since he took over the BSO a few years ago, I have come to admire James Levine enormously, but what kept me from that judgment in the past were recordings like this Missa Solemnis. It all but promises to be stupendous with a money-back guarantee. We have a vocal quartet made up of stars from the Met. The orchestra is no less than the ultimate in Beethoven, the Vienna Phil. The acoutsics are grand, the recording fine (showing some digital edginess in climaxes, however).
But the Missa Solemnis is at once an epic and a private prayer. It's also freighted with its reputation for cosmic nobility. Any performance that can't find a spiritual center will fall prey to big noises and virtuoso emptiness. That's what happens here. I didn't believe for an instant that this is a religious work, or that anyone involved was deeply moved. Levine has a wide range of expression at his command, but when he's at a loss, he pushes for surface dramatics (at bust-a-gut loudness) and then, at the opposite extreme, lugubrious slowness to emphasize the gravity of the situation. All the soloists are caught up in reaching the seats at the back of the house, losing any sense of private devotion.
All these judgments are subjective, of course, and I can understand any listener who responds to the vocal gleam and powerhouse orchestra. I didn't, try as I might. (In all candor I will point out that DG admired Levine's version enough to include it in their sacrosanct Complete Beethoven edition.)"
RX-01 | Bristol, UK | 03/05/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a Penguin Guide top recommendation and it is easy to see why. The solo singing is absolutely amazing. In the Agnus Dei the singers sing as if their lives depend on it! Levine's conducting and pacing is ideal. I have more than 5 recordings of this masterpiece and this is my definitive recording!"