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Missa Solemnis, Cologne, 1955

Discussion in 'classical' started by George J, Mar 12, 2020.

  1. George J

    George J Herefordshire member

    Otto Klemperer was one of the few musicians to have conducted the Missa Solemnis with the highest level of success. Great performances are rare for a work of which Klemperer noted,

    "It is enormously difficult to translate into reality a work that does not really take reality into account."

    I found this live recording on youtube, and any doubts about the possibility [however remote] of managing a really great live performance are banished in one fell swoop.

    The famous EMI stereo studio recording hints at it being possible as a recording project, but this shows the possibility as a single span in a live concert recording. It is not so much normal singing and orchestral playing but an inevitable lava flow of music. Sometimes it is almost physically terrifying, yet never actually forced into brutal coarseness. Typically for Klemperer at his greatest it is startlingly fast in places. Not the Klemperer we know from the late 1960s in the studio, where in the huge symphonies of Bruckner and Mahler he could [occasionally, but not always] lead performances of excruciating slowness.

    I have received a CD of this today, as it would be a shame not to have a permanent recording of it ...

    The CD is somewhat finer than the youtube sound quality. Mono, but clear and superbly balanced.


    Best wishes from George
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2020
  2. mandryka

    mandryka pfm Member

    Hello George

    The recording is widely available on streaming platforms, I will listen properly to it later, but just listening to the Kyrie has convinced me that it’s special.
  3. George J

    George J Herefordshire member

    This performance is proving terribly compelling. I suppose I would listen to the Missa Solemnis perhaps once a year for the last forty years. I have attended two live concerts of it, both in Hereford Cathedral.

    But this I have listened to three times in a week.

    The only recorded performance of music I have listened to more is the old EMI recording of the Brandenburg Concertos by the Adolf Busch Chamber Orchestra.

    Both bring something similar. There is almost a new discovery of the music. It makes so much sense that one understands so much more [on each listening] of what the composer was striving for. This is a sort of re-learning the music.

    I am so glad that it is being made widely available on streaming services, though I have never gone that route myself. No doubt that my youtube discovery led me to buying the CD, but many more can find it easily via streaming.

    Something to find comfort in during strange and uncertain times.

    Best wishes from George

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