Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Beethoven - Missa Solemnis / Camilla Nylund Birgit Remmert Christian Elsner Rene Pape Fabio Luisi Dresden|
Actors: Rene Pape, Cologne Opera
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
Understated Excellence - A Benchmark Performance
Hubert S. Mickel | 01/27/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Beethoven's Missa Solemnis is a natural choice for the consecration concert of the opening of the newly reconstructed Frauenkirche of Dresden. The domed circular church is a landmark for the city of Dresden. It is one of the finest examples of baroque architecture anywhere. Of all the German-speaking areas of Europe, it was Dresden that first performed this work, partially in 1829, and completely in 1839. As much or more than any other city in the world, Dresden has a sense of ownership of the Missa Solemnis.
The Dresden Staatskapelle is the oldest orchestra in the world, started by Heinrich Schutz some 450 years ago. Beethoven resonated an enthusiasm for the orchestra when he said that one heard on all sides that the orchestra in Dresden was the finest in the German fatherland. At the time Beethoven made this observation, Carl Maria von Weber was the conductor of the Dresden Staatskapelle. Despite the fact the orchestra includes some 120 members, it plays together like a string quartet. Bowing by members of the string sections is identical. If one cannot hear the unity of sound in the clarity of the orchestra's playing, one should be able to see the precision visually on this DVD. Every player of the section is at the same, exact part of the bow simultaneously.
When I first visited Dresden in 1973, I saw the rubble that was once the Frauenkirche. One of my next visits was in 1993. At that time, I was impressed that the large stone blocks were being catalogued and numbered. I remember a poster or sign stating they planned to rebuild the church. They accomplished the task by 2005. I recently visited Dresden (May, 2007) and found Neumarket around the Frauenkirche to be almost completely rebuilt and beautiful. For example, there are probably at least seven lovely restaurants where one can eat outside while in the shadow of the Frauenkirche. Dresden now looks like a Baroque Disneyland, because it seems almost too nice to be real.
One aspect of the rebuilding of the Frauenkirche is not easily understandable. The old Frauenkirche contained the finest organ built by the master organ builder, Gottfried Silbermann, one with 43 stops. The organ underwent changes on three separate occasions after its original construction in 1736. The original organ was played and tested in 1743 by Johann Sebastian Bach, who had been appointed composer to the Saxon court after he submitted the Missa Brevis to the Saxon king in 1733. J.S. Bach was also the Cantor to the Thomaskirche Leipzig from 1723 until his death in 1750. The loss of the old Silbermann organ breaks the link between Bach and Dresden, and poses a very real musical and intellectual loss to Western civilization, and especially to the German musical tradition.
I understand that the original plans for the construction of the Silbermann organ still exist. Those who planned the rebuilding of the Frauenkirche instead placed a 60 stop, modern, generic organ into the Frauenkirche, making the reconstruction of the Frauenkirche a sort of egg-shell accomplishment. There was no effort to replace an exact copy of the organ that existed in the old Frauenkirche immediately prior to the destruction of the church. On March 13, 1997, the Dresden Frauenkirche Foundation made the following report for those who wished to submit plans for the new organ: "The importance of Gottfried Silbermann, the builder of the former Frauenkirche organ, must be taken into account by referring to his design principles in the concept and to the 1736 organ." By the same argument, the builders of the new Frauenkirche could have, instead of copying the plans of George Bahr as closely as possible, built a new modern megachurch, the first in all of Germany. Of course, they would need to take into account George Bahr's design principles and concepts.
Those who now have control of enormous foundations with the potential of altering the future of mankind should look at the costs necessary to preserve this unique bit of history of music, and also provide the best organ Bach, the ultimate organ virtuoso, ever played on.
The people of Dresden responded to the consecration of the newly reconstructed Frauenkirche with a passion and enthusiasm that can be seen and heard in both the choir and orchestra. Dresdners have reason to sing and perform with their whole hearts the cry for peace that is in Beethoven's Missa Solemnis. On the night of February 13th-14th, 1945, we and the British fire-bombed the city of Dresden. We destroyed the old city with its personal art collections and historical architecture, the opera house, where they were playing a Schubert Octet, and killed myriads of refugees, probably several hundred thousand, who were waiting for trains around the nearby train station to take them further west to escape the plundering advancing Soviet troops, who would happily massacre them. After the fire-bombing, the Frauenkirche stood for a day, then collapsed spontaneously. It lay on the ground for about 60 years. The Deutsche Demokratishe Republik was not interested in restoring the palace of the Saxon king nor in rebuilding the Frauenkirche. When the wall dividing Germany fell, the walls of the Frauenkirche were soon to be rebuilt.
The four soloists: Camilla Nylund, soprano; Birgit Remmert, contralto; Christian Elsner, tenor; and Rene Pape, bass, sing together with a complementary sound. What an unusually excellent selection of soloists! Each one's performance is exquisite. Each one's voice blends perfectly together as well as with the choir and orchestra.
Fabio Luisi has been selected to lead the musical forces of Dresden beginning in the 2007 season. That fact bodes well for the Dresden Staatskapelle. His interpretation of the Missa Solemnis helps to make this historic event also a benchmark performance. The Missa Solemnis does not belong to one place or one time. No American conductor and no American orchestra owns it. It does not belong to any British conductor nor any English orchestra. The city of Dresden has a semblance of ownership. If Dresden "owns" the piece, they should play it better than anyone else. I thank the people of Dresden for giving us just such a performance with its impassioned cry for peace, performed with unheralded passion and perfection, upon the consecration by the people of Dresden of their newly reconstructed Frauenkirche.
You may buy this DVD simply for the beautiful music heard, and you would get your money's worth. How exceedingly much more is it to get the message that Beethoven wrote and that the citizens of Dresden have tried to express inside the landmark church of much historical significance to them."
The Gala Opening Concert at the Rebuilt Dresden Frauenkirche
J Scott Morrison | Middlebury VT, USA | 04/18/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"In a sense this DVD is as much about the gala reopening of the Dresden Lutheran Cathedral, the so-called Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady, called familiarly by Dresdeners 'the fat lady') that had been totally destroyed in the Allied fire-bombing of Dresden during World War II, as it is about Beethoven's Missa Solemnis. The building's ruins had lain untouched, more or less, until 1974 when the reconstruction was begun. That effort took thirty years and the new Frauenkirche, built as closely as possible to architect George B?hr's original 1743 plans, was consecrated in late October 2005, sixty years after its predecessor's destruction. This concert took place the following week, November 4, 2005. What could be more apt that to present Beethoven's choral masterpiece, the Missa Solemnis? The forces involved are the Dresden Staatskapelle, the chorus of the Dresden Opera, and four illustrious soloists -- soprano Camilla Nylund, alto Birgit Remmert, tenor Christian Elsner, and hometown superstar bass Rene Pape -- all led by the wonderful conductor, Fabio Luisi, himself fairly newly appointed to take up next year the directorship of the Dresden State Opera.
The performance is as moving as it is expert. Beethoven's music for the Missa Solemnis is famously difficult for all concerned, particularly in the high parts for the singers, soloists and chorus alike. All concerned carry off their parts beautifully. I was particularly impressed with the soprano of Camilla Nylund, sweet and penetrating even at stratospheric heights. High points in the performance are the dramatic Credo and the moving Agnus Dei.
Camerawork focuses as much on the candy-box baroque architecture of this huge cathedral, built on a circular ground-plan and with a towering dome. Acoustically I suspect the building is not best suited for musical performances, and since this was the first public performance of a work that called for large forces, I suspect the recording engineers had their work cut out for them. The only fault I noticed was that the soloists were a bit recessed at times, and that seemed particularly to effect the usually booming voice of bass superstar Ren? Pape. The chorus and orchestra, though, seemed to come through just fine in the recorded sound.
Sound: PCM stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1; Subtitles: Latin, English, German, Spanish, French. TT= 88 mins, plus a four minute minidocumentary (in German but with subtitles) about the reconstrcution of the Frauenkirche (with some stunning photography).