With no slight intended to the other great recordings of the Missa Solemnis in the world, there's this one and then there are all the rest. Truly. Even with the 1940 Toscanini and the 1974 Böhm, this 1965 recording of Otto Klemperer and the Philharmonia Orchestra and Chorus embodies everything that's great about the Missa Solemnis. And everything that's great about late Beethoven is in the Missa Solemnis: the energy, the nobility, the strength, the vision, and -- above all -- the overwhelming sense that the numinous is imminent. Beethoven thought it was his best work and who could not agree? That's what's in Klemperer's performance. His command of the score and control of the orchestra are complete, but it is Klemperer's ability to take the musicians beyond themselves, to go beyond making music to be made music, and to incarnate Beethoven's transcendent revelation in sound that puts this recording in a class of its own. Or rather, that puts it in the same exalted class as Klemperer's German Requiem and St. Matthew Passion, the class of the sublime. EMI's stereo sound was magnificent in its day and its remastering is ideal.
AllMusic Review by James Leonard