Missa Solemnis: Kyrie - Assai sostenuto (Mit Andacht)
Missa Solemnis: Gloria (Allegro vivace)
Missa Solemnis: Credo (Allegro ma non troppo)
Missa Solemnis: Sanctus - Adagio (Mit Andacht)
Missa Solemnis: Agnus Dei - Adagio
John Eliot Gardiner's interpretation of the Missa Solemnis stands as one of the crowning accomplishments of his career and one of the most impressive achievements of the period-instrument movement. The concept is grand and... more » powerful, lively though not unduly brisk. The execution is simply electrifying: Gardiner has the orchestra on the edge of their seats, the chorus going all-out, and sparks flying everywhere. Excellent singing from the soloists and a vivid recording complete the triumph, and it's all on a single disc. --Ted Libbey« less
John Eliot Gardiner's interpretation of the Missa Solemnis stands as one of the crowning accomplishments of his career and one of the most impressive achievements of the period-instrument movement. The concept is grand and powerful, lively though not unduly brisk. The execution is simply electrifying: Gardiner has the orchestra on the edge of their seats, the chorus going all-out, and sparks flying everywhere. Excellent singing from the soloists and a vivid recording complete the triumph, and it's all on a single disc. --Ted Libbey
J. Luis Juarez Echenique | Mexico City | 12/24/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The GRAMOPHONE went over the board to praise this recording giving it the Record of the Year Award. Well, we all know the English love each other... Sir John's performance is rather martial, certainly well rehearsed and very well played, but it just lacks the ultimate in humanity to make it really moving. The Missa Solemnis has been lucky lately. Nikolaus Harnoncourt's recording in TELDEC is even more poignant and moving than Gardiner's, but played with modern instruments. James Levine surprised everyone with his extraordinary live Salzburg recording, this is not yet another glossy DG affair, but a serious, deeply felt reading. But best of all, another live recording, comes from Harmonia Mundi. Philippe Herreweghe is one of the most spiritual and interesting conductors of our Time, raised in Bach and in Renaissance music, he has an extraordinary feeling for choral works, and his loving, enormous performance, raises like a great Cathedral to the skies. This is by far the most beautiful and moving Missa Solemnis ever recorded."
Big complex chest pounding late Beethoven...
ewomack | MN USA | 03/21/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This piece and this recording are simply astounding. It's big, heavy, sweaty, pining Beethoven with the added bonus of complexity. Not that this is a bad thing, but this piece is paticularly hard to get one's musical mind around, which probably explains why it's not as popular as some of his archetypal symphonies (5th, 6th, 9th). Unlike some of Beethoven's more overtly thematic work, this one needs to sink in slowly and settle in a comfortable spot in the psyche until it unleashes it's full spectrum of power, beauty, and richness.Part of the issue is that the piece was written over a number of years (1819-1823); enough years for Beethoven to develop in substantial ways. Consequently, the earlier movements have a different character than the later ones. But wait there's more: Beethoven also originally conceived this project (at least, according to a few sources) as a more traditional religious piece - he apparentely studied church music history with a vengeance, and this study manifests itself throughout the Mass. The goals apparently changed through the years, since the Kyrie and the Gloria have a more - relatively - traditional, classical feel to them, and the later movements are more moody and romantic (contrast the Gloria to the Sanctus and the differences stick out like escargot in a burger joint). Partly for the reasons above, and partly due to the length of each individual section (the Kyrie is the shortest at just under 9 minutes, and the Credo is the longest at just over 17 minutes) this piece seems best ingested and approached one section at a time, rather than as one big lump sum total. This way the distinctiveness of each part is emphasized, and the listener is not lost in the progression (not always is there a clear indication that a movement has ended, and often I find myself - while listening casually - wondering if I'm in the Gloria or the Sanctus, or the Agnus Dei - the Credo stands out the most due to the very demonstrative marching and pounding theme that runs through it, and the singing of "Credo Credo" is the most sing-along phrase of the entire work - I sometimes catch myself belting out a "Credo Credo" when I least expect or want it to happen).Another FAQ about the Missa Solemnis (or "Solemn Mass" or "Mass in D") is it's utilty: did Beethoven write it for religious or secular reasons (or: is it more like Brahm's Requiem or more like Bach's Passions)? It's one of those fascinating, corpus callosum splitting questions that provides much stimulus without much resolution. It doesn't appear that Beethoven was a practicing Christian in the traditional 18th century sense (i.e., he didn't go to mass regularly), but he has been quoted as saying that he wanted this Mass to incite religious feelings in the audience. But "religious" is only a somewhat kind of loaded and relative term. The other big spear of contention is the Credo itself: does Beethoven run through the major Catholic creeds in record time out of respect or disrespect? There are salient arguments on both sides of all these issues, and since Beethoven doesn't have too much to say about it these days, we're left with semingly nullifying arguments.Religious or not, it's an amazing work that takes work to appreciate. This work pays off in droves and droves and piles of droves. You'll be drowning in droves. The Kyrie's harmonizations (how many voices resolve to a single voice that finishes the phrase) are astounding; the beginning of the Sanctus has to be up there with some of the most beautiful and ethereal of Beethoven's sounds; the Agnus Dei is one of those great musical finishes that is even more appreciable once the entire is grasped. These are just a paltry few of the highlights of the Mass.This CD is arguably one of Sir John Eliot Gardiner's (don't forget the Monteverdi Choir and the English Baroque soloists) greatest achievements. Any Beethoven fan will jump in and happily drown in the sonorous splendor that is this disc. Excuse me while I dive..."
Gardiner becomes Beethoven
Juan Carlos Garelli | Buenos Aires, City of Buenos Aires, Argentina | 11/16/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I find this version to be quite in accord to Beethoven's emphasis on PEACE. Sir Eliot Gardiner becomes so imbued of the appeal to peace implicit in this monumental composition that he leaves any wish of personal acclaim to focus on the essentials of Beethoven's deeply felt beseech for a European Peace. So badly needed at the time.Much has been written about this monumental work of the maestro; much has been argued about its status as a true liturgy work for the church or its profane character; Even more has been speculated about Ludwig's actual religious feelings. Facts have it that the Mass was written for use in church: it was composed for the installation of Beethoven's friend Archduke Rudolf as Cardinal-Archbishop of Olomouc. In early 1819 Beethoven wrote: "The day on which a High Mass composed by me is performed during the celebrations for Your Imperial Highness will be the finest day of my life, and God will inspire me so that my poor abilities may contribute to the glorification of this solemn day." Solemn, humble, words, no doubt, which witty Ludwig had long proved possessed both the timing and the rhetoric to proffer. On the other hand, we know that Beethoven was particularly anxious to perform this work in Vienna, at least in part. As there was a strict prohibition against performing even parts of the Mass in a secular context, he gave these parts a German text. So parts of the Mass did make it to the concert hall, for example on the same day as the first performance of his Ninth Symphony. Furthermore, critics have put in doubt the liturgical context of the Missa Solemnis on account of the speed with which Beethoven passes over the passage "Credo in unam sancta catholicam et apostolicam ecclesiam", generally seen as evidence of critical Catholicism or even his doubts about the church. ...WAR
For instance, a key passage in the Mass is the recitative in the Agnus Dei. At first only dry beats on the timpani are heard. No music... just timpani thuds... What is it?... what is it?... where are we?... We are in the middle of nowhere, we are in the middle of terror, we are in the middle of war. Then the trumpets give a signal, smoothly, threateningly, the strings play a figure that is gooseflesh set to music. Then the alto soloist cries out fearfully: "Agnus Dei, miserere nobis" (Lamb of God, have mercy upon us). This cry is then taken up by the other soloists, resolving into complete calm, into well-ordered music: "Dona nobis pacem" (Give us peace). This is one of the most remarkable passages in the whole Mass, but I repeat, on the whole, the entire Mass is an appeal for peace. This struggle for peace is also recognizable in the "Christe eleison". "Eleison" and "miserere nobis" mean the same: have mercy upon us, help us, don't leave us alone. Beethoven believed in his heart of hearts that sweetly, devotedly and devoutedly supplicating beseeching heartrending calls can wrench the best qualities of anybody or any power exhibiting a fearful authoritarian, violent stance, that is why he relentlessly strove to show his heart wide open, to make the powers of peace and brotherhood prevail over splitting, fighting and warring. Gardiner makes the choir shoutLater on there is a similar passage, the fastest of the whole work, after the "Dona nobis pacem" (give us peace), a passage that resembles concert or symphonic music rather than a mass because of its strenuously battle-like overtones, at the end of which the chorus cries out in despair: "Agnus, agnus dei", very, very fast indeed. Has anybody ever heard an Agnus Dei shouted in church music? This cry is concerned with war and martial music. The cry finally blends into a prayer: Dona pacem (give us peace). In bar 96 of the Agnus Dei, Beethoven scribbled: "prayer for peace within and without". What is the meaning of "peace within", and of "peace without". Can you harbour any doubt that peace without means no war? For peace within means no hostilities at home, whereas peace without stands for no hostilities in between countries, outside the bounds of the countries. It would be unimaginable to envisage the passage with trumpets and timpani in the Agnus Dei from bar 164 onwards deals with peace without. On the other hand, no peace within surely stands for the overflown tragedies that surpassed any degree of control and suffer under the aegis of chaos. A city in flames. its houses turned to debris, lost children and parents bodes ill for the future of such injured communities: Agnus Dei from bar 266 onwards represents inner turmoil which at least demands our devoutest prayers for inner peace, and surely call for action to relief the victims. Tempi Beethoven used many different tempi in this work, slightly less than Mozart used in an opera. In virtually every major work of Mozart's we find a basic tempo which he constantly reverts to. Conversely, in Beethoven's Mass, almost every tempo occurs only once in each section. Beethoven seems to have been at some pains to describe his tempi (don't let's forget that by the time he was 50, he tended more and more to leave less and less to the incidental performer's chance decision. A striking example is Hammerklavier's "adagio sostenuto e con molto sentimento", where even unsatisfied by his unambiguous statement at the beginning of the movement, when the sensuous, tender, highly vibrating famous passage comes round, he adds: for the first voice, played by the right hand "cantando con intensità", and for both hands: "con grande espressione e libertà" ...It has often been said that if Beethoven had been aware of later technical improvements, such as the valve horn, he would have composed the whole Missa differently. He could also have changed a good deal in the vocal writing, e.g., leaving out the very high notes in the chorus. He could have set some of them lower. He might have chosen different keys; then everything would have been performed effortlessly and smoothly. The audible effort, the strain, even those aspects of the score that go wrong are essential aspects of Beethoven's particular aesthetics. Gardiner"
No adequate way to summarize this incredible recording
John | 09/11/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Missa Solemnis sunk into my head slowly, which I've found to be the case with many other things that are near to my heart. That being said, it has been two years since I first heard Gardiner's Missa. And for all this time, it has been the CD that I play in my car from the time I insert the key to the time I remove it. Why? Because no matter how much you listen to this absolutely wonderful recording, there always seems to be more to love. You can thank Beethoven for this. It took years for him to complete the score, and he himself considered it his greatest masterpiece (I agree). You can also thank Gardiner, who has brought out texture in the work that I'm sure many will never know existed if they never hear this recording. Gardiner uses a small group of highly trained singers. The beauty of the work is seered into your memory with crisp precision.I can not recommend this recording more highly and would enjoy hearing from anyone who is considering purchasing it."
John | 11/28/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"One of the great recordings of our day. I have always had difficulty appreciating this work -- that is until this recording came along. Absolutetly essential for every CD library."