Karajan surmounted this pinnacle of the choral-symphonic repertoire - which Beethoven himself called "the greatest work I have composed" - no fewer than four times in the recording studio, but only once live and on film: in this unique document from the 1979 Salzburg Easter Festival. The atmosphere of Salzburg's Festspielhaus and festival audience adds a special frisson to this conductor's classic interpretation of the Missa solemnis.
Beethoven's Missa Solemnis was performed on 13 and 14 February, 2010 at the traditional memorial concert to commemorate the bombardement of Dresden during the last weeks of World War II. Under Christian Thielemann, the Staatskapelle Dresden proved itself exeptionally qualified to master this work´s magnificent challenges. Thielemann “conjured up the gigantic cosmos of the Missa with such lightness and grace that its mystery seemed to reveal itself”, wrote the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
"Leonard Bernstein succeeded superbly in conveying his own intellectually ferocious vision of what the Missa solemnis truly signifies. His 1978 Concertgebouw performance is one of the greatest utterances of Bernstein's Indian summer on the Yellow Label." (Classics Today.com)
This album was recorded live at the Barbican in 2012. It features soloists Lucy Crowe (soprano), Jennifer Johnston (mezzo), James Gilchrist (tenor), Matthew Rose (bass). Sir John Eliot Gardiner offers a daring reading of this piece. The ORR’s performance on period instruments is virtuosic and colourful; the Monteverdi Choir contributes arresting chorus parts. Composed “from the heart”, Beethoven’s epic Mass has been described a statement of highly personal religious faith. It is rarely heard in concert due to the large forces required and the exacting demand it places on all performers.
With no slight intended to the other great recordings of the Missa Solemnis in the world, there's this one and then there are all the rest. Truly. Even with the 1940 Toscanini and the 1974 Böhm, this 1965 recording of Otto Klemperer and the Philharmonia Orchestra and Chorus embodies everything that's great about the Missa Solemnis. And everything that's great about late Beethoven is in the Missa Solemnis: the energy, the nobility, the strength, the vision, and – above all – the overwhelming sense that the numinous is imminent. Beethoven thought it was his best work and who could not agree? That's what's in Klemperer's performance.