Sunday Telegraph - Seven Magazine, by John Allison, 28 October 2012
The most mystical moments in Beethoven’s searching Missa Solemnis are achieved through unusual orchestration - not least the flute’s bird-calls representing the Holy Spirit in the Et incarnatus.
And thanks to the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique’s period instruments, tumultuous sound was a focus of John Eliot Gardiner’s gala with the Monteverdi Choir, a performance underlining the work’s position as an awesome peak of the musical Enlightenment.
Also influenced by Masonic philosophy, Beethoven’s mass came across as a sacred counterpart to Mozart’s opera in its blend of profound sophistication and simple, direct appeal.
Blistering attack from the choir and a well-blended solo quartet helped to balance the work’s stark contrasts. From the surging supplications of the Kyrie to the battlefield please for peace in the Agnus Dei, Gardiner’s questing zeal made this Missa Solemnis inspiring and unsettling in equal measure.