Affectionate, joyous Missa Solemnis
William Ellis | Atlanta, GA USA | 07/07/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This performance, taped live by Bavarian Radio, was never on LP as far as I know. Lovers of this work should be grateful to Orfeo for releasing it. Kubelik was a well-loved conductor in Munich, but internationally he was underrated, possibly because he recorded on DG, the same label as Bohm and Karajan. This is a joyous, life-affirming Missa Solemnis with the excitement of a performance occasion and complete commitment from the orchestra, chorus, and soloists. Following Kubelik's lead, all seem to be reveling in the beauty of the music. Tempos all feel "right" - and except for a couple of places where the sound engineers weren't quick enough to catch a changing balance (the choral entry beginning the Gloria and the mezzo's entrance in the Sanctus), the balance of orchestra, chorus, and soloists is fine. A couple of quibbles: the solo violin in the Sanctus is too closely miked, which mitigates some of the beauty of the playing, and that sour oboe of the 70s BRSO sometimes compromises the otherwise fine wind playing. But these are far outweighed by the merits of the performance, including Kubelik's sometimes uncanny insight into the spirit of the composer, the very fine Bavarian Radio chorus, and the excellent soloists. I have to single out Helen Donath's gloriously sung part - sweet, rock-solidly supported through all those challenges Beethoven throws at the soprano, and absolutely at one with the meaning and spirit of the work. This has to be the way angels sing. I have many wonderful recordings of this surpassingly wonderful work, and each has its merits. Some are more exciting, or reverent, or mystical. But this joyful interpretation is the one I'd take to a desert island."
A fiery, heroic Missa Solemnis, one of the best
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 05/15/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In terms of excitement and intensity, Kubelik's live 1977 Missa Solemnis is hair-raising. The stately Klemperer and super-controlled Karajan versions seem lukewarm by comparison. If anything, this Missa is too nerve-wracking; there's barely a bar of respite, and in excitable portions of the Gloria, as well as the Et Vitam Venturi fugue ending the Credo, we are shsot into hyperspace. Under such conditions, it's impossible to expect the chorus to sing with exact unanimity and intonaiton. They don't, the higher soprano notes being quavery and ill-tuned, the men shouting above forte.
That's a small price to pay, however. The excellent solo quartet (especially Schreier and Fassbaender) sing their hearts out. Kubelik was a variable Beethoven conductor; he had a particularly embarrassing time when he conducted the Ninth Sym. in London as a memorial to Otto Klemperer, a performance excoriated by the local critics. Whatever he did then, he does everything right here. The sonics are good FM stereo, but with lots of bouncing around with the dynamic level and balances--solo voices and instruments can be too loud, the chorus too distant. Most of the time it sounds fine, however.
My only caveat is that the large chorus causes a good deal of echoey reverb, and their words are mostly unintelligible. That aside, this is one of the best Missa Solemnis recordings in decades, miles ahead of the cold-blooded Gardiner and the zippy, superficial Zinman."
Great! One of the best!
T. Avramov | Ceske Budejovice, Czech republic | 09/01/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Considering that Furtwängler had never recorded this piece, Kubelik version might be the most beautiful. It has very lyrical, subtle mood, good soloist, very good choir and very, very great conducting. Other special versions are: Karajan on Testament from 50's, Böhm mono version with BPO, Erich Kleiber from 1948 and I like also Levine from Salzburg, Gardiner, and of course Karajan with Janowitz because of Janowitz. Not to forget Toscanini whose Beethoven is often dry and hard, but his all M.S. are splendid. But still Kubelik is my first choice."