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Cat. No. CHAN 0703 Price: £10.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 0703 - Beethoven: Mass in C major/ Elegischer Gesang/Meeresstille un Glückliche Fahrt
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Available From: 13 October 2003
"Prince Nicolaus Esterházy II is best known as Haydn’s last employer, the aristocrat who combined a life of debauchery with a genuine love of church music and who, in particular, elicited the composer’s six late masses. He figures, too, in Beethoven’s life, for, as President of a Viennese theatre consortium, he was often in negotiation with the composer about operatic projects. In 1807 he commissioned Beethoven to compose a mass for performance in Eistenstadt. It was the composer’s first foray into liturgical music and he was genuinely worried about inevitable comparisons with Haydn, his former teacher. The performance of the mass was not a success – the prince wrote to a friend that the music was ‘unbearably ridiculous and detestable’. It was a strange reaction, for, in truth, while the mass is unmistakably Beethovenian in its innovation, ferocity and exaggerated contrasts, it is notable for its deference to tradition, certainly in comparison with contemporary works such as the Eroica Symphony and the ‘Razumovsky’ quartets.

Beethoven had a lifelong interest in the works of Goethe and set the poet’s words on no fewer than seventeen occasions, but he only met the poet once, in the summer of 1812. The following year Beethoven conceived the idea of setting Goethe’s two complementary poems Meeres Stille and Glückliche Fahrt for chorus and orchestra. While Beethoven’s relationship with Prince Esterházy was difficult, that which he enjoyed with Baron Johann Baptist von Pasqualati was more congenial. Beethoven composed Elegischer Gesang for chorus and string orchestra in 1811 as a mark of affection, following the death of the Baron’s wife. The author of the comforting text is unknown: perhaps it was Pasqualati himself.

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Reviews

Disc of the Month
Performance *****      Sound *****
 
Richard Wigmore - BBC Music Magazine - February 2004

"... I confidently commend Hickox’s outstanding new version [Mass in C major]."
Peter branscombe - International Record Review - January 2004

                        ’Editors Choice’
’Beethoven’s radical rethink of the liturgy engenders a joyous reading from Hickox.’
Edward Greenfield - Gramophone magazine - January 2004

'The Chandos team specialises in full and juicy recordings, and one of the joys of CHAN 0703, a Beethoven disc dominated by the Mass in C, Op. 86, lies in its well-balanced sound. No hiding under the orchestra's coat-tails for the choir of Collegium Musicum 90; they ride happily on top of their lively partners. The enthusiastic conductor is Richard Hickox, following his delectable Chandos versions of Masses by Haydn and Hummel.'
The Times

"...Clear-toned period instruments provide a kaleidoscopic accompaniment to magnificent singing. Outstanding."  *****
Andrew Stewart - Classic FM Magazine - January 2004

                   Classical CD of the Week
"...This performance maintains the exceptional standards of Hickox’s previous classical mass recordings, with the outstanding choir and period-instrument orchestra of Collegium Musicum 90 and four soloists, led by the radiant high voices of Rebecca Evans and Pamela Helen Stephen. The even rarer Elegiac Song and a Goethe setting, Meeresstille und glückliche Fahrt, are welcome makeweights."
Hugh Canning - The Sunday Times - 14 December 2003

 

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