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Missa Solemnis

5 customer reviews

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Audio CD, March 16, 2004
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 16, 2004)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Naxos
  • ASIN: B00019P6P4
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #340,524 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Larry VanDeSande VINE VOICE on July 30, 2004
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Any new recording of the Beethoven "Missa Solemnis" is in itself an achievement, for this is the most daunting, difficult choral work to bring off short of any choral piece composed by John Cage in the 12-tone heyday.

I have performed this a couple times as a singer -- once as a tenor, once as a bass -- and it was the most difficult work to perform of my lifetime thus far. The first time I sang in the chorus, I was certain -- less than a month before performance -- that we would not be able to do it. We did, but only with great struggle.

You hear some of that struggle in this recording, which is very good and fills an important niche in the single disc low-price field. I think this might be the best recording of this music emanating from a low price recording since Gunther Wand's two-disk set released by Nonesuch about 1965. That set was recently reissued on the full price Testament label.

The struggle you hear on this recording is represented most directly in the bass soloist and the bass section of the choir. Neither are very powerful, especially in projecting the bass notes Beethoven wrote below the staff. The bass runs in "Credo", which are incredibly difficult to pull off, are about impossible to hear in this recording. This is not necessarily a criticism, although when you put out money for a recording you may expect to hear everything.

Otherwise, this is a very good recording, done very well by the Nashville symphony, the chorus and soloists. In particular, the soprano and tenor are exemplary singers that belt out the music real well. Some performers spend a lot of time deliniating the differences between the pianissiomo (ppp) to fortissimo (fff) markings in the score.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Robin Friedman HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 5, 2004
Format: Audio CD
I have always taken an interest in the career of conductor Kenneth Schermerhorn of the Nashville Symphony Orchestra. Schermerhorn became the conductor of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra at about the time I was leaving Milwaukee and turned it into a first-rate ensemble. The Milwaukee Symphony was my first and for a long time only source of professional, live orchestral music as I developed as a child what would become a lifelong passion for music. Schermerhorn has proceeded to make some outstanding releases of American orchestral music with the Nashville Symphony on Naxos. With this CD, he conducts one of music's seminal works: Beethoven's Missa Solemnis, opus 123. The music is performed anew by a rising American conductor,orchestra, and chorus with four young American soloists: soprano Lori Phillips, mezzo-soprano Robynne Redmon, tenor James Taylor, and bass Jay Baylon.
The Missa Solemnis is a rare work in that it combines on a vast scale music of a subjective, deeply personal intimacy with an extraordinary showing of musical study and learning.
The personal character of the work can be shown by two famous markings Beethoven put at key points in the score. The Mass was dedicated to the Archduke Rudolf, Beethoven's longtime patron. On the Archduke's copy of the score at the head of the opening Kyrie Beethoven wrote "Von Herzen -- mogen es wieder -- Zu Herzen gehen!" -- From the heart, may it go to the heart! Then, Beethoven wrote an inscription on the final section of the Mass which read: "Bitte um innern and aussern Frieden" -- Prayer for inner and outer peace.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By J Scott Morrison HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 19, 2004
Format: Audio CD
My personal benchmarks for the 'Missa Solemnis' are those by Bernstein and John Eliot Gardiner. Bernstein recorded it several times (including once with Eileen Farrell, Kim Borg and Richard Lewis, but hard to find and in less than wonderful sound), but my favorite is the one with the Vienna Philharmonic with soloists René Kollo, Gwyneth Jones, Hanna Schwarz and Kurt Moll. Gardiner's version, of course, is recommendable because it uses original instruments and historically-informed performance practice. It also happens to be lighter on its feet than most traditional recordings, a real plus in my book. I love the 'Missa Solemnis' but I get a little weary with bombastic performances of the 'Gloria.' Neither Gardiner nor Bernstein makes that mistake, but additionally Gardiner's clear textures bring out the incredible part-writing while not diluting the sense of exultation and praise.
Here we have another fine 'Missa Solemnis' from, I first thought, an unlikely source: Kenneth Schermerhorn, the Nashville Symphony and Chorus, and a group of soloists who are virtually unknown. We must remember, however, that Schermerhorn is no neophyte and was, indeed, a protégé of Bernstein's early in his career. Further, I have been increasingly impressed by the work turned in by the Nashville Symphony. Nashville is a growing community with a large commitment to the arts and a lively music school at Vanderbilt University, in whose Ingram Hall this performance was recorded. So, perhaps my biggest surprise is the level of artistry from the four soloists.
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