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“Bernard Haitink found great nuances and nice timbres of the orchestra effectively and impressively underlining the bombastic passages of the piece.” (Münchner Merkur). Teaming up with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and Choir, the grandseigneur of the stars of the podium devoted himself to the “Missa Solemnis” of Ludwig van Beethoven. Beethoven himself called the ceremonious mass his greatest piece of work. It was originally conceived as a tribute for the induction of his student, Archduke Rudolph of Austria, as archbishop of Olmütz, to whom the composer dedicated more pieces than to anyone else, a total of 16 oeuvres. Having to postpone work on the piece time and time again for health reasons, Beethoven failed to complete the mass within the original deadline. Finally, the premiere took place 1824 in St. Petersburg, though in a concert hall not in a church. This was probably for the better, as the approximately one-and-a-half hour long mass was hardly suitable for a liturgical setting. If the “Missa Solemnis” is rightfully considered Beethoven’s religious legacy, it is because it is the musical manifestation of his critical position towards the Catholic Church and of his proximity to the ideas of humanism. Rehearsed by Peter Dijkstra, the Bavarian Radio Choir displayed its exceptional class especially in the complex fugues and energetic passages of the piece. The ensemble was completed by a “wonderful quartet of soloists: Genia Kühmeier´s voice floated in the space with celestial ease, Elisabeth Kulman was beguiling with her incredibly powerful alto.” (Abendzeitung) Likewise, Mark Padmore and Hanno Müller-Brachmann revealed prolific vocal culture under the baton of Bernard Haitink.

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Bernard Haitink