Beethoven began composing the Missa solemnis in 1819, when he learned that his patron (and pupil) Archduke Rudolph was going to be appointed Cardinal Archbishop of Olmütz. The plan was for the mass to be ready for performance at the enthronement celebrations in March 1820, but one year proved to be too little time. It wasn’t until almost three years later, in January 1823, that Beethoven was able to complete the work. As might be expected, it was unparalleled in every respect – although composed for use during church services, even Beethoven’s contemporaries found that it exceeded the bounds of the genre. Beethoven himself was quite aware of both the dimensions and the importance of the work: in a letter he described it as ‘my greatestRead more work’. It is also a work which over its course encompasses great contrasts: from the solemnity of the Kyrie and the intense excitement at the opening of the Gloria to the disturbing intimations of war during the closing Dona nobis pacem.
Originally founded with the aim of performing the choral works of Bach, the Bach Collegium Japan and Masaaki Suzuki are now taking another great leap, after their recent release of Mozart’s Great Mass in C minor. Described as ‘refreshingly open-hearted, spontaneous and natural’ their interpretation received a 2017 Gramophone Award. Joined by an eminent quartet of vocal soloists, the team now applies its expertise in period performance to Beethoven’s masterpiece.
The performance has warmth, energy and an exact feeling for tempo. The Japanese chorus rise fearlessly to Beethoven’s demands. A memorable musical and emotional experience.
– Sunday Times (UK)
This recording of Ludwig van Beethoven's Missa Solemnis, Op. 123 offers a revelatory performance that is so clear in its textures, lively in its tempos, meticulous in its execution, and detailed in its parts that this monument of western choral music seems to have shaken off all the mossy accretions of nearly two centuries. Highly recommended.
Missa solemnis in D major, Op. 123by Ludwig van Beethoven Performer:
Roxana Constantinescu (Alto),
Ann-Helen Moen (Soprano),
James Gilchrist (Tenor),
Benjamin Bevan (Baritone)
Bach Collegium Japan
Period: Classical Written: 1823; Vienna, Austria
Beethoven from the heartMarch 2, 2018By Dean Frey See All My Reviews"At the top of the autograph score of Beethoven's Missa Solemnis the composer wrote the motto "From the heart, may it return to the heart!" Conductor Masaaki Suzuki has made this the keynote of an impressive new recording of this late work, emphasizing the very personal, almost ecstatic spirituality Beethoven added to what might not have seemed at first a congenial musical project. Suzuki is a deeply religious man, whose faith infuses all the music he makes, and he begins by taking seriously Beethoven's setting in a liturgical context. Beethoven's Christianity may not have always been orthodox, but it was always sincere. Indeed, I don't think he had an insincere bone in his body! So there's indeed a Bachian (and Handelian) air about this music, and Suzuki also highlights the other older sources Beethoven brings in (which the composer referred to as "the monk's Church chorales". But Suzuki remains true to the score, and with some by now unsurprisingly perfect choral singing from his amazing choir, he brings true authenticity, but also a new freshness and immediacy to this sublime music. The soloists are also all first-class. I was especially impressed with tenor James Gilchrist, who made a strong impression as The Evangelist in John Eliot Gardner's recent St. Matthew Passion, and mezzo-soprano Roxana Constantinescu, so good in Stravinsky's Pulcinella under Boulez."Report Abuse