Beethoven: Missa Solemnis

Susanne Bernhard / Pavol Breslik / Enoch zu Guttenberg / Yorck Felix Speer / Anke Vondung

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Beethoven: Missa Solemnis Review

by Blair Sanderson

Founded by conductor Enoch zu Guttenberg, the KlangVerwaltung Chamber Choir has performed masterworks of choral literature since 2000 and established itself as one of Germany's most exciting small choirs. Because of its size, it might not seem possible that the choir would be able to communicate the force, grandeur, and majesty of Ludwig van Beethoven's Missa Solemnis in D major, but it succeeds rather well in this regard, despite the evident signs of a streamlined ensemble. Guttenberg takes the music at a fairly brisk clip, and the KlangVerwaltung Choir is limber enough at his tempos to handle Beethoven's angular counterpoint with agility and grace. Joined by soprano Susanne Bernhard, alto Anke Vondung, tenor Paul Breslik, and bass Yorck Felix Speer, the singers convey Beethoven's sacred expressions with depth and authority, so all the work's emotions, from human compassion to divine ecstasy, are convincingly carried by the music, without any signs of technical difficulty. The KlangVerwaltung Orchestra is similarly adept at playing Missa Solemnis uptempo, and its support for the voices is strong and secure without being overpowering. However, the sound of the recording is out of balance in a few places, so particular instruments will stick out and dynamics are not always accurate. Even so, with the audio being a separate matter, this is still a committed performance that merits attention, and many will find this to be an exciting rendition of Beethoven's greatest mass.

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