Charles Ives, BEETHOVEN: Missa Solemnis, Op 123

James Jolly

By James Jolly

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
A masterful composer once again reinvents a form.

Rather like the Hammerklavier Sonata and the Choral Symphony, Beethoven's great Mass-setting reinvents the form. It is conceived on a vast scale and again pushes its performers to the limits. The soloists and chorus are asked to sing at the very edges of their range so that the sense of striving throughout the piece is tremendous. The setting of the Benedictus, with a solo violin drafted in, is a wonderful oasis in the drama of the Missa solemnis. Conductor Kenneth Schermerhorn made this recording not long before he died and it is a great tribute to his charisma on the podium that he draws his vast forces together in a performance of real integrity. This is a religious work and Schermerhorn makes it sound like an act of devotion — which is entirely to the Mass's benefit.