Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Beethoven's Solemn Mass during Advent

Although I have the Beethoven “Missa Solemnis in D Major” Op. 123 on Telarc with Robert Shaw conducting the Atlanta Symphony and Chorus, I was pleased to find a 1955 recording on YouTube with Otto Klemperer and the Cologne RSO
In my early days of record collecting, Klemperer usually appeared on Angel records, even in the days that the labels were red.  I actually got a recording of the Beethoven Ninth with Klemperer on Christmas 1962, shortly after I had VM stereo, of a 1957 early stereo recording with the Philharmonia Orchestra.
Klemperer had a reputation for stodgy tempos, particularly in fast movements. (He was said to be "tortured".)  That was true somewhat in the Ninth, and, as I recall, of the way he handled the Second at the time (the last symphony Beethoven would compose before noticing hearing loss).  Yet, his performance of the Solemn Mass comes in almost ten minutes faster than some of the competitors.
I attended a live performance of the Solemn Mass in the spring of 2007 at the Washington Cathedral.
I’ve always been dazzled by the fugues in the Gloria and Credo. The work is very difficult to put on within anything less than a paid professional chorus.  
On Sunday, December 7, 2014, the Men’s Choir of the First Baptist Church of the City of Washington DC performed the “Benedictus” section, which is actually just part of the “Sanctus” movement.  Lon Schreiber provided the orchestra with the Austin Organ.
The last movememt, Agnus Dei, actually starts in B Minor (echoing the famous Bach mass) before going back to D Major, which now is in parallel, to end loudly, which is unusual for a mass (although the same kind of ending happens with the Mozart Requiem).  
Update (other notes):

Sunday, December 7, Lon has provided a setting of "Veni Emmanuel" on the Austin organ by Leo Sowerby.

At the monthly dinner, the Family Life Christmas Program enacted "Look Around the Stable".

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