[ Sony Classical / CD ]
Release Date: Sunday 10 July 2016
When Nikolaus Harnoncourt retired from the stage in December last year, it was his express wish to release the broadcast recording of his last project, Beethoven's monumental "Missa solemnis" as his personal legacy.
The "Missa solemnis" concerts at the Styriarte Festival Graz and the Salzburg Festival in summer 2015 were his last public performances. This recording of Beethoven's late masterpiece was made from material captured at the Graz concerts and rehearsals.
As a result of his life-long research on Beethoven, he conducted the work for the first time with the Concentus Musicus Wien on period instruments, the Concentus is joined by the Vienna based Arnold Schoenberg Choir and a handpicked solo quartet.
"The solo quartet is light-voiced but substantial, making their roles sound less strenuous than can normally be the case, particularly in the examples of Laura Aikan's lovely soprano and Johannes Chum's sweet-toned tenor. The chorus is spectacular and so is the orcherstra-a veritable extension of Harnoncourt's arm. The sound is devoid of any glare, even in the brassiest passages, but clear and thrilling nonetheless. A unique Missa solemnis." (10/10 ClassicsToday Aug 2016)
"It's not perfect - the violin solo in the Benedictus sounds scrawny - but no performance of this daunting masterpiece can be. The soloists, Laura Aikin, Bernarda Fink, Johannes Chum and Ruben Drole, blend wonderfully." Sunday Times, 26th June 2016
"This is a remarkable account of Beethoven's Missa solemnis and, in one important respect, an unusual one. For though it is in no sense lacking in drama, it is in essence a deeply devotional reading...Harnoncourt's performance has an atmosphere you might more normally expect to encounter when listening to a piece such as the Fauré Requiem." Gramophone Magazine, Editor's Choice August 2016
"unsurprisingly for Harnoncourt, there is a sense of searching throughout the performance...it's a gentle performance overall. But Harnoncourt's masterly control of the larger structure means that within those parameters, the moments of jubilation make all their impact." The Guardian, 21st July 2016 ****