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CD: MDT AmazonUK

Carl Maria von WEBER (1786-1826)
Missa Solemnis No. 1 in E flat major Op 75 J224 [40:26]
Offertorium “In die solemnitatis vestrae” [3:39]
Maria Taborsky (soprano); Gerda Kink (alto); Hermann Pöllman (tenor); Hans Huber (bass); Gisela Schindler (organ)
Chorus and Orchestra of St Michael of Munich/Ernest Ehret
rec. Fürstenfeldbruck, Bavaria, 1964 (?)
no text included

Experience Classicsonline

I should start by explaining that there is some confusion in my mind as to what is on this disc. The cover states that it contains the “Messe du Freischütz” and that this is Weber’s Missa Solemnis No 2 in E flat major. Grove however lists Weber’s Freischütz Mass as being No. 1, giving it the Opus and J numbers shown above. I assume that this is the work we have here although I have been unable to obtain a score (Faber publish a scholarly edition) and the notes with the disc are meagre in the extreme. Listening to it with a more innocent ear than I would have preferred I quickly concluded that whatever its real title this is a magnificent work deserving more frequent performance and recordings.
I know nothing about any of the performers or of the circumstances of the recording. It is clearly not recent in date (1964 is given as the date of copyright) and it is very far from perfect in execution. Nonetheless all concerned clearly know the work and have a coherent and musical approach to it. All of the soloists have voices that can at times be uncomfortable to listen, but more importantly all are nonetheless able to give an adequate idea of “how it goes”. The chorus and orchestra are adequate if not much more, but even if one can imagine a better performance and certainly a better recording there is nothing here that should prevent the listener’s enjoyment of the music provided that a certain amount of creative listening is undertaken. 

The work itself was a revelation to me. There are obvious echoes of the composer’s best known opera and even more of the Masses of Haydn and Beethoven. It is an exact contemporary of the latter’s Missa Solemnis and there are some interesting similarities between the Credo in the two works. The Sanctus starts with some remarkable instrumental effects, and the two alternative versions of the Offertory both set the soprano formidable tests. My overwhelming reaction on listening to the work as a whole was of amazement that it is such a rarity. It is a dramatic, beautiful and fascinating work. For all the defects of this disc, which include a very short playing time, this is an honest and essentially musical performance which does at least provide a valuable opportunity to get to know some very remarkable and enjoyable music.
John Sheppard































































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