Missa Solemnis - Favourite Versions

(Tony Casey) #41

There are a lot of Toscanini’s out there but I don’t have that one. You are really making a strong case for a Tidal subscription. :slight_smile: The one I have is the 1953 with the Robert Shaw Chorale. It’s easy to see why Toscanini is the Missa solemnis bedrock but with this one you can literally hear the batton being handed on to the next generation.

The one you want is the live version. There was a studio version done a few days later with exactly the same team but the balance isn’t quite right so some find the soloists too recessed in the mix. Roon didn’t get an identification so this link might be more helpful. A great resource for difficult to source historical recordings. there seems to be a streaming service as well but I haven’t tried it. Scroll past the sales stuff for the review:

(Gerald Richardson) #42

Even as a major Ludwig van buff, it took a long time for me to appreciate the Missa Solemnis. Our former San Francisco Symphony music director Herbert Blomstedt finally brought me around, it’s a shame he did not record it here.

(Tony Casey) #43

Yes, shame. I don’t have them but he has done recordings with the Berlin Philharmonic and the Gewandhausorchester Liepzig. Do you have either of them by any chance?

This looks like an interesting streaming service from the Berlin Philharmonic:

This one a more traditional CD

(Tony Casey) #44

Thanks for the Jochum tip. I don’t know why I have taken so long to get around to that one. Jochum just knocks it out of the park.

(Gerald Richardson) #45

I do have his Leipzig recording, it is very good.

(Tony Casey) #46

Does anyone know if the Leipzig is on Tidal? Just curious

(Gerald Richardson) #47

Yes, it is.


is the Jochum on Tidal? i haven’t been able to find it.

(Tony Casey) #49

I don’t have a Tidal sub. Maybe someone else knows. Well worth seeking out. Best one I’ve heard in a long while. Kicking myself for taking so long to get to it.

(Andrew Cox) #50

I can’t see it on Tidal in Australia.

(Dick Vliek) #51

just to tease:

(Tony Casey) #52

I don’t know how Quboz compares with Tidal but there are a lot of very good Missa solemnis on Quobuz, including the Jochum:



It’s not Tidal, or MQA, but sounds damn fine.

(Tony Casey) #54

Is that the 1966 one?


i’ts '65 i think, but yeah, probably the same performance/recording. the benedictus is particularly lovely.

i listened to Klemperer again yesterday as well, and noticed an odd tic- all the soloists pronounce Agnus Dei with a hard “G”. i found it distracted from what is otherwise a wonderful performance.

(Tony Casey) #56

It’s probably a 65 performance but 66 release. Again on Quobuz there always seem to be several digital versions that are not on Tidal? The first and third on this list are the 65/66 as far as I can see:

From youtube and excerpts I much prefer it to the 85 I have. Thanks for the tip. Karajan did 5 Missa solemnis I think so there is a lot of variation in soloists / interpretation etc. Found a S/H 65/66 on Amazon for 3 eur. Had to be done.

(Andrew Cox) #57

I’ve been listening carefully to the 1974 Bohm and really enjoying it. I think the recording quality is better than the 1965 Klemperer.

So this leaves me hungry to listen to both the 2015 Haitink and the 2017 Janowski. I sense some purchases in the offing.

I gave the 2017 Suzuki a good listen and it perked my ears up in the first few bars. Does Suzuki create four chords where everyone else plays three ? I may have to find a score. I liked the balance between the soloists and choir in the Kyrie, some versions completely lose the soloists in favour of an immense choral assault but here I can follow the solo lines without turning up the volume. I prefer the Suzuki to the Gardiner as a period style but I find the period styles a bit slight and thin-blooded compared to the “moderns”. There should be more to a crescendo than a kettledrum.

Anyway, continuing to listen and learn and starting to enjoy the Gloria as much as the Benedictus. Although I’m a shocking atheist I used to sing in a chapel choir and find the different theological roles of those parts in the MS most interesting.

(Tony Casey) #58

You’ve got good ears. The Suzuki sounded different to me as well so I went to the score on imslp:

Technically it’s actually scored for 4 chords. A trombone comes in with the timpani halfway through the first long chord, so technically it’s 4 chords. I think that is what you are hearing. A lot of the time though in big Missa solemnis, you cannot hear the trombone entrance, it is too far down in the mix so it sounds like the 3 chords everything else in the orchestra is playing.

Most of the time it is easier to hear the trombone come in a full semitone lower in the period versions. I can hear it in the Gardiner and both the Herreweghe’s for example. But with the modern versions it’s a more mixed bag. I was surprised, but on the Klemperer I have I can hear it but not the Bohm. I also cannot hear it on the Haitink but I can on the Eschenbach.

So this is part of the argument for a period version, that it is easier to pick out the details in such complex music. But it also appears to be possible with modern instruments though not so common. I guess it comes down to a combination of the Conductor’s understanding of the score and the skill of the engineer in the recording.

(Andrew Cox) #59

Thanks Tony, the trombone entrance is exactly what I can hear distinctly on the Suzuki. How interesting that we can tell something about the “transparency” of a version in the first two bars.

(Tony Casey) #60

Yes. And how little the resolution has to do with it.

The trombone entrance is as clear as a bell through all the coughing, shuffling, analogue tape hiss and clicks and pops of the live 1953 Toscanini. What that would have sounded like if they could have recorded it on modern digital equipment! That group must have felt a buzz that that they had something special because they rushed into the studio 2 days later. Unfortunately it has all the hallmarks of being rushed because the consensus is they messed up the miking of the soloists. But you don’t need to listen to the soloists to hear the mistake. The mistake is right there, right in the the first two bars. You cannot hear the trombone entrance at all.

Funny enough Karajan gets the trombone in both his 1985 and 1966 modern versions. The 1985 I have is an audiophile Japanese SHM-SACD but its much less distinct than the 3 eur bargain basement 1966 “twofer” I have. You really have to concentrate which is why I probably never cared for the 1985 very much. Due to space constraints on my work laptop I also only have 320/MP3 of a lot of stuff. But the trombone entrance still rings out on the 1995 period Herreweghe for example

It’s cases like this why I don’t bother much with all the audiophile rigmarole anymore. It matters round the edges but the musicianship and the mastering is much more important.