John Eliot Gardiner conductor
This summer the Monteverdi Choir, Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique and John Eliot Gardiner, alongside an outstanding quartet of soloists, performed Beethoven’s late masterpiece at three of Europe’s most prestigious festivals. In particular, we were humbled and honoured that we were able to perform Beethoven’s Missa solemnis at the BBC Proms on Wednesday 7 September 2022. We hope this performance was able to bring comfort to members of the public both live at the Proms and in the coming days following the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
To listen to the Prom, please click here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m001bkmc
‘From the heart - may it go again - to the heart!’
Beethoven’s words scrawled at the top of the manuscript score of his Missa solemnis express the depth of emotion involved in its composition. The piece began as a commission for a mass from Beethoven’s patron and former pupil, Archduke Rudolph, but emerged eventually - much later than planned - as a monumental and passionately personal work, which wrestles with the conventions of the liturgical text and the composer’s attitude to religion.
The Monteverdi Choir and ORR will shine in this demanding score which they have tackled many times since their ground-breaking 1989 recording, encompassing the lyricism of the Kyrie, the energetic Gloria, the virtuosic fugue of the Credo and ethereally beautiful Benedictus. The final Agnus Dei, a desperate plea for peace in the midst of the horrors of war, sounds as timely now as it did in Beethoven’s day.
The outstanding soloists Lucy Crowe and Ann Hallenberg, frequent collaborators of the ensembles, were joined by two of the most exciting young voices of the moment, Giovanni Sala and William Thomas. Renowned British bass Matthew Rose replaced William Thomas for the Wroclaw performance only.
‘Gardiner’s approach is of an almost epic nature - and this is how he “tells” this Mass - whispering, murmuring, plaintive, short-tempered, vanishing, loud and quiet, warm and cold…’ Kultura Extra
‘This was a tremendous performance in which soloists, chorus, and every group of the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique played their part, no less so than under the inspired direction of Sir John Eliot Gardiner.’ Seen and Heard International
‘There are few conductors who are fully aware of the sophistication of the voice and who are able to use it. John Eliot Gardiner is one of them.’ Frankfurter Allgemeine
‘Lucy Crowe forms the strong point with her soft and voluminous soprano, Ann Hallenberg is a finely balanced counterweight with her expressive, full mezzo-soprano, and the young English bass William Thomas fits in perfectly with his vocal mobility to the tenor Giovanni Sala. But nothing demonstrates the fragility of human existence as impressively as Peter Hanson’s violin solo in “Benedictus”.’ Frankfurter Allgemeine
‘For a start, Gardiner was in magisterial form: totally convincing in his pacing of this strange, unorthodox Latin Mass setting. Some outbursts were like rocket launches: exhilarating in their speed and forcefulness. Elsewhere it was as if a celestial calm had transfixed the whole hall — audience and performers.’ The Times ★★★★★
‘Above it all the soprano soloist Lucy Crowe soared, vibrant and with impeccable intonation. The other standout soloist was the bass Will Thomas, launching the Agnus Dei in a way that suggested how much turmoil and terror was still to come before peace is finally attained.’ The Times ★★★★★
‘In Gardiner’s hands, Beethoven’s highly personal setting of the mass came across as a towering, original masterpiece.’ Music OMH ★★★★★
‘Scrupulous attention to diction and dynamic markings, whilst always keeping the balance between the vocal lines in check ensured that Beethoven’s unique vision came across with rare insight and musicianship. There was an electricity that surged throughout the performance – due in no small part to the choir’s faultless intonation, and fearless way they tackled Beethoven’s exacting contrapuntal writing.’ Music OMH ★★★★★
‘The wondrous Lucy Crowe always has a special glow in the upper register; in this space, it sounded supernaturally luminous’ The Arts Desk: ★★★★★
‘Gardiner’s interpretation – confrontational, vivid, fierce in its articulation and drama – has long been regarded as a thrilling, if radical alternative to the slow-moving, more reflective approach favoured by some performers, but here there was even greater intensity and immediacy than I remember in 2014.’ The Guardian: ★★★★
‘It was an extraordinary performance of Beethoven’s Missa solemnis. Hugely energetic and stylish, but very contemporary.’ Polityka
‘The soloists (soprano Lucy Crowe, mezzo-soprano Ann Hallenberg, tenor Giovanni Sala and bass Matthew Rose) were perfectly matched and harmonized well with each other. The choir was also great - the collective hero.’ Polityka
“The performance of Missa solemnis with Gardiner was brilliant. But it also showed Beethoven’s work from a completely different, sometimes unexpected side. It was very theatrical, ultra-modern and archaic.” Telewizja Racjonalista
“Balanced, saturating the music with details, but energetic and precise, Gardiner, more than thirty years ago, when he first recorded Beethoven’s work, clearly followed Toscanini’s footsteps. Today he certainly has not changed the way - but has clearly enriched it. His present vision of Missa solemnis was the most rhetorical I have come across so far.” Chopin Polskie Radio
8.00pm, Wednesday 31 August 2022
Royal Albert Hall, London
7.30pm, Wednesday 7 September 2022
7.00pm, Monday 12 September 2022