Good value,but not definitive performances.
quia-nihil-sum | Inverness,Scotland. | 06/11/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
"It's nice to have Beethoven's masses available in one attractive little package.However,you are going to have to look elsewhere for the best interpretations of these works.Mind you,I found much to enjoy here,and it would be surprising if I hadn't,considering the distinguished line up of the forces involved. The Missa Solemnis is a glorious thing to exist upon the Earth in the first place,and under Sir Colin,I'm sure Beethoven himself would nod in approval at the considered,magisterial pace at which he makes the piece flow.Yet I missed the unfettered,abandoned impetus in those incredible fugues at the end of the Gloria and Credo,which are so brilliantly realised in the performance under John Eliot Gardiner.In fact,for anyone approaching this masterpiece for the first time,I would strongly advise them to buy that CD before any other.Naturally,it can't hope to confine this force of nature in one interpretation,but it's a damned fined suspect to take along to that desert island. The Mass in c has suffered in comparison to the Missa Solemnis,but that's most unfair in my opinion.It should be considered a fully-formed masterpiece in it's own right,and in some ways I almost prefer it's less histrionic beauties compared to it's big brother.The performance of it given here is very good,and I agree with the reviewers of the "Penguin guide to CDs",that the Credo has rarely been executed with such dramatic flair.Even so,I don't feel it eclipses the gorgeous reading by George Guest,with his nonpareil Choir of St.John's college,Cambridge. They bring a freshness and ebullient spring to proceedings which I find impossible to resist.A good test of their mettle is the way the bass voices grind to a halt on the final syllable of "et sepultus est" in their Credo. On no other recording does this moment communicate such a heart-breaking sense of desolation and loss at these words. Also their rendition of the Benedictus is impossible to imagine been bettered.Beethoven was truly inspired here (just as he was with the same passage in the Missa Solemnis),and only Haydn in his late masses (you MUST get hold of these by the way)can hold a candle to him.I,m only sorry that I don't have the featured soprano's name to hand,as I type this review,but she knows who she is,and will surely go to Heaven for this stunning interpretation. As far as I know you can still get this performance courtesy of the Belart label,and I strongly urge you to do so.In the meantime,Sir Colin Davis et al,provide excellent company,and you won't be wasting your money if you take a chance on it."
Still One Of The Definitive Performances Of Missa Solemnis
John Kwok | New York, NY USA | 12/22/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I concur with the Penguin Guide To Classical CDs that this is one of the finest performances of Beethoven's "Missa Solemnis". Davis does an elegant job leading his soloists and orchestra; the Credo is certainly the highlight of this performance. Yet Davis' tempi may seem a bit sluggish to those accustomed to performances conducted by the likes of Gardiner and Harnoncourt. Yet it is still a riveting performance enhanced by Philips' digital remastering. And at this price, it is certainly a steal."
Sour Mass in C
Music Lover | 03/02/2009
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I actually purchased this CD for the Mass in C, which has been a favorite of mine ever since I performed in it in college. I must say this performance was incredibly lackluster. First and foremost, the tempo dragged unacceptably, especially in the Gloria and the Pleni Sunt Coeli part of the Sanctus. These movements become lumbering behemoths in the hands of Maestro Davis. Painfully slow. Second, the balance of the choir is the opposite of what it should be. It is as follows: 10% bass, 10% tenor, 20% alto, 60% soprano. Even when the men are singing alone it is difficult to hear them, and when all four part sings together, they are lost entirely. Finally, the alto soloist sounds like she should have stopped singing professionally about 10 years ago; her vibrato is so excessive and unpredictable that it is sometimes difficult to tell what note she is actually singing. The one shining star in this recording is the soprano soloist, who is one of the best I have heard in this part, especially in the Qui Tollis section of the Gloria where her voice is particularly light and airy. Unfortunately, her voice alone is not enough to save this recording. The recording of this piece that I like the most is released by Hyperion records, and features Matthew Best conducting the Corydon Singers and Orchestra. Try and find a copy if it, if you can."