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Luigi CHERUBINI (1760-1842)
1. Missa Solemnis in E (1818) [40:22]
2. Antifona sul canto fermo 8.tona [2:45]
3. Nemo gaudeat [7:28]
Ruth Ziesak (soprano) (1); Marianna Pizzolato (mezzo) (1); Herbert Lippert (tenor) (1); Ildar Abdrazakov (bass) (1); Barbara Fleckenstein (soprano) (2,3); Barbara Müller (alto) (2,3); Andrew Meyer (tenor) (2,3); Bernhard Schneider (tenor) (2,3); Christoph Hartkopf (bass) (2,3); Harald Feller (organ) (3); Max Hanft (organ) (3)
Bayerischen Rundfunks Chor/Peter Dijkstra
Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks (1)/Ricardo Muti
rec. live 22-23 June 2006, Philharmonie am Gasteig Munich, Germany. DDD (1); 18-19 April 2007, Herkulessaal der Residenz Munich, Germany. DDD (2,3)
EMI CLASSICS 3943162 [50:53]
Experience Classicsonline

Muti’s ongoing Cherubini series has had ups and downs. This one perhaps includes elements from both camps though overall the impression is strongly positive. I’d never encountered the Missa Solemnis in E and rather took to its still, solemn gravity of expression, not least in the opening Kyrie where the high sopranos and the basses create a special sound world. The jubilation of the succeeding Gloria is fashioned by trumpets and percussion, rallied by Cherubini in typically avuncular fashion. Strong figuration is to the fore and the soloists are introduced. The longest movement by far then follows, the extensive fourteen minute Credo. This is music of great dignity but not one ounce of pious monumentality. True, there are moments when Cherubini can’t escape the charge of blocky writing or foursquare sections but to compensate he varies the string textures beneath his writing for soprano and elsewhere and takes care to ensure thematic interest is maintained along with dramatic consistency. Where Cherubini scores highest is where his imagination turns theatrical – he can create pockets of invention and power where one perhaps least expects them. There are occasions in the Credo where he unleashes paragraphs of powerful rhythmic drive, served up with considerable reserves of conviction.
The Communio is a refined contrast to the power unleashed in the Credo – and here the women’s voices are at their most attractive. In the concluding Agnus Dei the delicacy of Cherubini’s orchestration is the main point of interest - lightly but affectionately moulded by Muti, the writing gently winding down to affirmative nothingness, something of a minor masterstroke. The demerits are small but need to be noted. Some of the balances are not perfectly judged in relation to chorus and soloist. And there are some imprecise choral entries and balances within the choir itself. The soloists are a highly effective group and the orchestral felicities are noteworthy. 
There are two companion works to bring the disc up to the fifty-minute mark. The Antifona sul canto fermo 8 tona is a very short, plangent work and is superior to the Nemo gaudeat, which is significantly longer but makes less impression – I have to admit that I found it rather boring.
For those following Muti in his Cherubini quest this is another authoritative entrant into the lists – not perfect by any means but attractive.
Jonathan Woolf
see also review by Mark Sealey


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