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Beethoven: Missa Solemnis, Mass In C / Davis, London So

Release Date: 10/12/1993 
Label:  Philips Duo Catalog #: 438362   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Patricia PayneRobert LloydRobert TearAnna Tomowa-Sintow,   ... 
Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony OrchestraLondon Symphony Chorus
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 2 Hours 16 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This, for a start, is a sensible coupling", and that, for a start, is a sensible point. It was made by Trevor Harvey, opening his review of the original issue in 1978. He remarked on Beethoven's care over word-setting, a consideration of prime importance in the composition of both Masses. He also noted that the C major Mass, though "nothing like as magnificent" as the Missa solemnis, was unjustly neglected, and that in these recordings it had the benefit of a completely successful performance, the D major Mass rather less so.

All of this still holds. The C major, if not now quite neglected (it has ten recordings currently available, compared with the Missa solemnis's 21), is still felt to be something of a poor
Read more relation, and, as TH said, it doesn't confer prestige upon a choir in the way the other undoubtedly does. But what this coupling of the two Masses achieves is an increase in prestige for the earlier work. Listened to historically, as though from the far side, its blazing originality and inspiration make Prince Esterházy's "But my dear Beethoven, what is this you have done now?" perfectly understandable. It is also true that it has the more completely satisfying performance. Yet the Missa solemn/s is fine too, and is the sure recommendation for that work in preference to the 1975 mid-price EMI under Giulini, the only other version to be coupled with the C major.

One difference is clear from the start: Davis brings his players down with unanimity on the first chord and its later counterparts, whereas Giulini's sound like the old-style pianism of left-handbefore-right. At the start of the Gloria Giulini does indeed secure clarity, but by setting a rehearsaltempo curbing the great rush of praise and then investing the "pax hominibus" with a sentimentality that would never be an indulgence of Davis's. But then (alas for the clearcut decision) Giulini's C major Mass is totally different: energetic, purposeful, alight with specific insight, and really rather overshadowing the very good Davis. Giulini's recording of the C major was made in 1970, and shows him as a conductor in a completely different light. On balance, I would still take the Davis coupling. In the Missa solemni.s the main limitation is a want of tension in the A gnus Dci: throughout, this is a tremendously secure performance, but in the Missa solemn/s you need some element of danger. It's still fine, and the C major (Giulini notwithstanding) is excellent, both as performanceand recorded sound.

-- J.B.S., Gramophone [8/1993]
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Works on This Recording

Missa solemnis in D major, Op. 123 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Patricia Payne (Mezzo Soprano), Robert Lloyd (Bass), Robert Tear (Tenor),
Anna Tomowa-Sintow (Soprano)
Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  London Symphony Chorus
Period: Classical 
Written: 1823; Vienna, Austria 
Language: Latin 
Mass in C major, Op. 86 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Christiane Eda-Pierre (Soprano), Robert Tear (Tenor), Patricia Payne (Mezzo Soprano),
Kurt Moll (Bass)
Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  London Symphony Chorus
Period: Classical 
Written: 1807; Vienna, Austria 
Language: Latin 

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