A useful coupling from
the repertoire angle here, matching
Beethoven's 'other' Mass with the brief
cantata, Calm Sea and Prosperous
Voyage. Yet there are drawbacks.
Even taking into account the price,
surely less than fifty minutes' playing
time is stingy?
Nice to hear the Meerestille,
though. I remember a performance conducted
by Abbado once - this sort of Beethoven
suits Abbado well - but that was the
one and only time I have heard this
work live. Its brevity may work against
it, who knows? But it is an effective
little seven-minute cantata. Abbado's
recording is on DG 419 779-2, coupled
with the 'Pastoral' Symphony and an
excellent Choral Fantasy featuring
Maurizio Pollini as soloist.
Of course a calm sea
was no advantage in the days of sailing
ships, rather imposing stasis on ocean-going
vessels. Corboz sets up a real feeling
of calm, but with an undercurrent that
implies awareness of the imminent activity.
Performance-wise, all is acceptable.
There is evident care here – perhaps
too much as the sense of jubilation
In the right hands
the Mass in C can appear as a major
work. Alas, not here. There are facets
of this performance to admire, though.
The soprano soloist, Audrey Michael,
is nice and pure of voice. The remaining
three are rather more variable, especially
the anemic tenor Markus Schaeffer. The
soloists are rather close-miked.
The cathedral-ish acoustic
works well enough in this piece but
the whole thing needs an extra shot
or two of voltage, not to mention spiritual
radiance; the hushed beginning of the
Credo, for example. The fugue of the
Benedictus is rather under-powered,
too, and the 'Pleni sunt caeli' of the
Sanctus tends toward the stodgy.
Searching for the positive
to report, I can at least tell you that
the fugue subject of the Credo (sopranos
and violins) is well articulated. But
when the end of the work comes, there
is more than an element of the 'so what'
about it. And that is not what this
piece is about.
If you know these works,
you won't need these recordings. And
if you do not know them, there are better
ways of making their acquaintance. Try
Matthew Best and the Corydon Singers
and Orchestra on Hyperion CDA66830 for