[74] Ludwig van Beethoven – Missa Solemnis

5 Sep

To date I have been very all or nothing in my regard for Tom Moon’s Classical choices, loving the 4 Bach recordings, coming close to loathing the 3 from Bartok, and being less than thrilled with the 2 Adams pieces.

Otto Klemperer conducts the New Philharmonia

Otto Klemperer conducts the New Philharmonia

This left me very curious to see how I would react on the whole to Beethoven’s 6 entries into the list.  The Archduke blew my mind, while the late string quartets left me cold.

So what’s next?

The Missa Solemnis opens with an absolutely enormous wall of vocal sound that is as exhilarating to hear as it is astounding to comprehend.  There are just so many individual voices, instruments, lines.

The big themes sweep and soar, hundreds of moving parts creating an inspiring whole, then the quieter orchestral moments serve as a necessary pause, a catching of breath between the complex evolving melodies and the extravagant choral sections.

The juxtaposition is breathtakingly, frailly beautiful.

As with John Adams way back in the opening weeks of this undertaking, I’m spending a little more time adjusting the volume up and down than I’d like to, but this time I am invested enough in the operatic scope of the sound that it is not getting in the way of my enjoyment.

I am quite certain that I have not heard much, if any, of this before and the melodies are at once unexpected yet somehow familiar – they rarely go where I expect them to, but still sound somehow “right” for want of a better word.

Each solo vocalist shines as they take the lead, blending beautifully where they intersect with each other, with the chorus, with the orchestra.  The image that keeps coming to mind – perhaps cliche but nonetheless appropriate here – is of painting with sounds in loud, proud strokes.

I would *love* to hear this performed live, to sit in the concert hall with a mass of humanity on stage and off, to experience the waves of power and emotion physically washing over me.

In the meantime, this recording seems to be a close approximation.

Next Week: Ludwig van Beethoven – Piano Concertos Nos. 1-5

Owned before blogging? No. (9 of 74 = 12%)
Heard before blogging? No. (11 of 74 = 15%)
Recommend? Yes. (59 of 74 = 80%)

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