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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Live Performance, 19 Feb 2007
Beethoven himself felt that the Missa Solemnis was his greatest work. It is hard to disagree with him with after hearing such a performance. Bernstein is a composer as well as a conductor and he was powerfully influenced in his own Mass in conducting the present work. I feel that what you get in this performance is a gradation of each movement so that it contributes to the whole experience.

As an example, the opening of the Gloria is as impressive as any performance you are ever likely to hear. However there is something 'held back' because at the end of the movement, when this material returns [transformed], the power of the music is substantially greater. In the fugue 'In Gloria Dei Patris' you hear the conflict in the music with savage accents which Bernstein brings out while maintaining dynamic terracing so you can hear the individual lines. In the 'Credo' the quiet sections are devout whilst in the fugue 'Et Vitam Venturi' the music clearly dances and the ever rising voices, syncopated with tied crotchets, induce a trance whereas in the latter part of the fugue the rhythmic power and abandon are beyond compare.

As wonderful as the fast and powerful sections of the music are played, I think Bernstein is most at home in the Sanctus and the Praeludium to the Benedictus, with his love of Mahler he must have felt particularly close to the Praeludium's melting texture yielding to a very innocent, transfigured song that Mahler aspired to but did not always achieve.If you do not know the work then this movement can best be imagined by thinking of the slow movement from Beethoven's violin concerto which has a similar mood.

The soloists and chorus are entirely up to this music. Their cadenzas at the end of 'Et Vitam Venturi' are very touching, they sound like lingering tender farewells.

The live performance clearly brings excitement to the playing and singing. This disk cannot be recommended highly enough.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Grand and devotional - but with variable soloists, 4 Feb 2010
Ralph Moore "Ralph operaphile" (Bishop's Stortford, UK) - See all my reviews
The biggest and most welcome surprise here is the way that Bernstein takes a broad overview of the music and sits back, letting it speak eloquently without his imposing any self-regarding or self-aggrandising gestures. It is a broad, grand interpretation but never lacks excitement at key moments.

The orchestra is magnificent and the choir hardly less so, so it is the greater pity that there is a certain muddiness in the way they are recorded, whereas the soloists remain prominent in the sound picture. My reservations centre on their quality and homogeneity as a team, hence the reduction of one star. All are impassioned and committed but Edda Moser is decidedly shrill and edgy in the higher reaches of her voice, especially if you compare her with Gundula Janowitz for Karajan or Söderström for Klemperer, to name the chief competition. Similarly, Kollo is no Wunderlich, and can be rather whiney and bleaty as is his wont. Hanna Schwarz is unexceptionable and unexceptional in the alto part. The best voice in the quartet is the great Kurt Moll, then in his young prime, but the very distinctiveness of his sound - a rich, penetrating "buzz" if I can put it that way - makes him stand out in ensemble.

The violin solo in the Benedictus is exquisitely played by Herman Krebbers - but Michael Schwalbe for Karajan is equally rapt. This is a beautiful account which gives Bernstein the orchestra and choir he deserved and did not always get. The sound quality, apart from the slight fuzziness around the choir, is barely distinguishable from a studio recording yet it conveys the frisson of a live performance. Bernstein is in full control of a world class orchestra and a choir better drilled and disciplined than some of those he directed in the latter part of his career and here infuses this monumental work with both an autumnal glow and a yearning supplication worthy of Beethoven's most devotional work.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Solemnis choice, 25 April 2012
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It's difficult to choose a Missa Solemnis among so many recordings of the work, yet this one stands out for the passionate conducting, the enormous quality of playing and singing (this can be equalled in other famous performances, but hardly the former), and finally, the fabulous quality of the analogue DG sound of the late 70s.
It was a great idea to reissue this material in the low-cost Galleria series so that it becomes more widely available. The first issue was a double cd boxset with a very short second cd; This single cd runs for 81 minutes!
There's no competition in value for money; the likes of Naxos wouldn't have prospered had this cheap Galleria series been expanded and marketed adequately. For instance, the Naxos recording of this work is so bad in all fronts! it's like a small Ford competing against a powerful Mercedes-Benz. No choice.
A must-have as this work is full of treacherous waters and the likes of Harnoncourt, for instance, failed. Grab yourself a high-quality bargain, till it lasts!
The other reviewers contribute valuable info about the work; shame there's no unanimity in the 5 star rating.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The finest noise, I absolutely love it!, 19 Dec 2013
SOC (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Beethoven: Missa Solemnis (MP3 Download)
I've listened to a couple of Missa Solemnis and this is by far the definitive version. I'm sure it's very faithful to the score, which is always a plus. I listen to this every Sunday, a little temple of extol and adore in my cave. The third part of the Credo has angels fluttering right bang in the middle!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Get your act together DG, 30 Mar 2014
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The performance of the Missa Solemnis is cracking.
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Beethoven: Missa Solemnis
Beethoven: Missa Solemnis by Leonard Bernstein and Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
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