Search - Herbert von Karajan: Beethoven - Missa Solemnis in D Major, Op. 123 on DVD

Herbert von Karajan: Beethoven - Missa Solemnis in D Major, Op. 123
Herbert von Karajan Beethoven - Missa Solemnis in D Major Op 123
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
NR     2008     1hr 23min

Conductor, director and artistic supervisior Herbert von Karajan leads the Berlin Philharmonic and the Vienna Singing Society in the Missa Solemnis by Ludwig van Beethoven. This performance from a live production at the Ea...  more »


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Movie Details

Creators: Herbert von Karajan, L.V. Beethoven
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
Sub-Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Classical
Studio: Deutsche Grammophon
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 04/08/2008
Original Release Date: 01/01/2008
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2008
Release Year: 2008
Run Time: 1hr 23min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 1
Edition: Classical
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English
Subtitles: German, English, French, Spanish

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Movie Reviews

Monumental Missa beautifully played and filmed
Mike Birman | Brooklyn, New York USA | 04/13/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Herbert von Karajan was a fine choral conductor and nowhere is that more evident than in this DVD recording made from an Easter 1979 television broadcast of Beethoven's massive Missa Solemnis in D Major, Op. 123. Along with Bach's great Mass in B Minor, this is the finest musical setting of the traditional Catholic Mass. Beethoven spent some five years in its composition, and in a staggering manifestation of his genius, wrote it whilst simultaneously composing the titanic Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125. Beethoven was totally deaf by this time and both works contain problematic passages that are difficult to make sound properly, especially some of the vocal parts that are written in an unusually high tessitura. Karajan handles these difficulties with relative ease, smoothing over any vocal problems, presenting a monumental old-style performance of great power and fierce emotional impact.

With vocal and instrumental forces numbering some 200 or so, no claims of authenticity are offered. This is as traditional a performance as you can imagine. Its effectiveness lies in its perfection. Karajan conceives this Mass as a manifestation of Beethoven's inner religious musing, thus giving the slow movements a ruminative quality of inner-directed bliss and matchless sublimity. The more outgoing movements, with their mighty fugal utterances, are offered as a vast musical edifice proving Beethoven's secure mastery of Baroque contrapuntal musical structures. Never was Beethoven's greatness as a composer more evident than in his final works: with their blend of sui generis originality and the composer's self revealing vulnerability, they are utterly unique in musical history.

Karajan, the Berliner Philharmoniker, the Wiener Singverein and the four splendid soloists provide a superb blend of power and insight in this wonderful performance. The Gloria is earth-shattering in its mighty shout of praise. The Credo sure and certain in its statement of belief. The Sanctus is quiet and softly probing in its examination of faith, with a Benedictus that is utterly sublime in its beauty. The Agnus Dei and final Dona Nobis Pacem famously end the Mass with a question mark regarding humanity's fate, a psychic scar bequeathed by the recently terminated Napoleonic Wars. Karajan provides each movement with its proper interpretation, giving the Mass an inevitabilty Beethoven himself would have appreciated. This is an exemplary performance.

The film looks good for its age with only some slight ghosting. Sound in PCM stereo and DTS 5.1 is clear and full. The disc lasts 84 minutes.

A magnificent traditional performance that is strongly recommended.

Mike Birman"
An adequate, but not outstanding, performance
William L. Coulehan | Bakersfield, CA USA | 06/21/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)

"Full disclosure: I prefer dramatic choral works performed with a full range of tempi, with singing devoted to pitch accuracy, rather than excessive vibrato and overly dramatic arrivals at the correct pitch. With these biases in mind, I was disappointed in this performance. Overall, the musical performance is good, and the recording and videography are both excellent. However, the slower movements (Kyrie, Sanctus, and Benedictus) are performed at a faster tempo than I prefer, and, in my opinion, lose much of their potentially-excruciating beauty as a result. I also did not enjoy the performances of the soprano and tenor soloists, who in my opinion brought operatic excess to parts that sound better when performed with less vibrato and greater accuracy in intonation. I guess I'll just continue to listen to my Robert Shaw CD."
Energetic and Inspiring
Shlomo S. Hoffert | Kfar Saba, Israel | 03/28/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This DVD of Beethoven's Missa Solemnis is dramatic, well sung and, especially, well conducted. Von Karajan's conducting is masterful and powerful. What he is able to do with the orchestra is superb. His is an energetic and inspiring reading of this monumental work. It is worth purchasing if only because of Von Karajan but the singing is top notch too."
Stirring Missa Solemnis
Ivor E. Zetler | Sydney Australia | 11/04/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This stirring live concert of Beethoven's Missa Solemnis was filmed at the 1979 Salzburg Easter Festival. Herbert von Karajan leads the Berlin Philharmonic and a large chorus; period performance enthusiasts beware! I enjoyed this performance very much; seeing as well as listening adds greatly to the appreciation of this great and immense composition.

Despite the general excellence of the performance I have a few minor complaints. While the soloists are generally admirable, Ruza Baldini's mezzo voice is somewhat underpowered. The video production, now 30 years old, is good for its time but dated. The lighting is adequate but on the dark side and there is the usual concentration on Karajan. The viewer does get to see the conductor crack a genuine smile during one of the music breaks. The sound is good.

DVD versions of the Missa Solemnis are thin on the ground (there is a Conzertgebouw/Bernstein version which I have not seen). Despite my reservations, I highly recommend this DVD."