This really was quite a fine recording of Beethoven's Missa Solemnis, one of the best in years and easily the best of the early music recordings. The Choeur de la Chapelle Royale et du Collegium Vocale sing with strength and stamina, but also with grace and beauty of tone. The Champs Elysees Orchestra plays with power and precision, but also with unity of ensemble and beauty of tone, a very rare quality in an early music orchestra. And Herreweghe himself is actually an apt interpreter of the work. Not only does he have a knack for bringing out better than the best in his performers, but he actually seems to believe in the spiritual and sublime essence of the work, a very, very rare quality in any conductor these days. The result is a performance which, while it doesn't rival the 1940 Toscanini, the 1965 Klemperer, or the 1974 Böhm, does express the overwhelming sense that the numinous is imminent. Harmonia Mundi's sound is rich and vibrant.- James Leonard
This reading shows the gentleness of the work perfectly…The essence of the score that Herreweghe brings out so well is Mendelssohn's flawless counterpoint, not just the fugal choruses but between orchestra and choir or woodwind and strings. The harmonic richness leaps out from the opening of the overture, with its lush orchestration of the chorale Wachet auf. It makes so much sense on a period orchestra.–Early Music Review
The grandest of Mozart's wind serenades in performances that fully measure up to their wit and profundity. Philippe Herreweghe's attributes as a conductor, perviously revealed in an outstanding series of baroque and classsical choral works, are revealed in these warm and wise period performances, with outstanding playing.– The Guardian
Recorded in 1987, this disc by Belgian conductor Philippe Herreweghe and the choral-instrumental ensemble La Chapelle Royale came in advance of most of the historical-performance recordings that have delved deeply into Bach's cantatas and their world. It was, in fact, the first digital recording of the Trauerode, BWV 198. Despite some competition, this remains an exemplary Bach performance, and it was a superb candidate for reissue in Harmonia Mundi's HM Gold greatest-hits series.
According to German theological tradition, which Bach knew very well, the alto voice was the very symbol of the Holy Ghost. Bach's three solo cantatas for alto demand enormous vocal virtuosity. Their extraordinary musical variety embraces sublime consolatory lullabies, a faithful echo of an organ concerto and the dramatic qualities of an oratorio. Andreas Scholl is the featured soloist in this reissue, backed by Philippe Herreweghe and the Collegium Vocale Gent.
This is a rather brisk reading of Brahms' masterpiece, the most ambitious work in his output and one of the greatest compositions of its type. Though Herreweghe's tempos often pushed the music to its limits here (except for the first section), the performance never actually sounded fast, or at least not offensively fast. In fact, it challenges the Levine/RCA effort.