Beethoven: Missa solemnis; ‘The Reconstruction of the Frauenkirche’

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COMPOSERS: Beethoven
LABELS: EuroArts
ALBUM TITLE: Beethoven
WORKS: Missa solemnis; ‘The Reconstruction of the Frauenkirche’
PERFORMER: Camilla Nylund (soprano), Birgit Remmert (mezzo-soprano), Christian Elsner (tenor), René Pape (bass); Chor der Sächsischen Staatsoper Dresden; Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden/Fabio Luisi
CATALOGUE NO: 205 4688
There’s a conflict of interests in this DVD. It was made from two performances of Beethoven’s immense Missa solemnis that celebrated the opening of the rebuilt Frauenkirche in Dresden last November. This great Baroque building, which the Allies saw fit to flatten in World War II, only began to be rebuilt in the 1990s – there is an extremely short and perfunctory documentary about that which is also included on the DVD.


Naturally the cameras at the opening were restless, so that we do many tours of the building (its inside only), though without being at any stage given a fair impression of what it looks like from ground level. One wonders whether Beethoven’s work – nearly 90 minutes of the most challenging choral music ever composed – was the best choice for the occasion. The forces here are distinguished, but the impression is more of an emotionally charged celebration than of a great performance. The sound is impressive, but the Benedictus, with its sublime violin solo, is rushed.

Not really a worthy memento.


Michael Tanner