John Nelson conducts Beethoven's Missa Solemnis

Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Gulbenkian Choir

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The Gulbenkian Choir

Chamber Orchestra of Europe — Orchestra

John Nelson — Conductor

Tamara Wilson — Soprano

Elizabeth DeShong — Mezzo-soprano

Nikolaï Schukoff — Tenor

Brindley Sherratt — Bass

Program notes

John Nelson proves his love for Beethoven

In the beautiful Gulbenkian hall in Lisbon, built entirely in wood, John Nelson conducts Beethoven's only Mass. A proportionately gigantic work, the Missa Solemnis, composed for the archbishop Rodolphe is work made of sufferance. At the time completely deaf, Beethoven has just lost his brother. Even though the composer confessed his desire to commit suicide, his energy will eventually overcome his desperation. It is this victory that the Missa Solemnis celebrates. Composed following the Hammerklavier, this piece explores new territories, never before used sonorities and solid and framed structures.

Bare handed, with an infectious energy and innate sense of form, John Nelson – an old "Beethovenian" - gives a poignant interpretation of this vast liturgy. Balancing between explosive choir parts, mystical contemplation and classic equilibrium, this version brings homage to one of the masterpieces of Beethoven.

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