Opening concert - Missa solemnis - Beethoven 250
RIAS Kammerchor & René Jacobs
Brigitte Christensen, Soprano
Sophie Harmsen, Mezzo-Soprano
Steve Davislim, Tenor
Johannes Weisser, Bass
RIAS Kammerchor Berlin
René Jacobs, Conductor
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
«Missa solemnis» in D Major for Soloists, Choir and Orchestra, Op. 123 90'
Although he was not a diligent churchgoer, Beethoven always showed sincere faith. When he felt his body failing him, he turned both inward – his complete deafness was diagnosed around 1820 – and upward. In 1818, the prospect of the investiture of his beloved protector Rudolf of Austria as Archbishop of Olmütz prompted him to embrace the composition of a Mass of colossal proportions that he had long been thinking about. His poor health combined with the dizzying height of his ambition prevented him from completing this Missa Solemnis in time. Indeed, he was not to deliver it to Rudolph until 1823. But what a monumental piece! He was particularly keen to assimilate the legacy of Bach and especially Handel, whom he considered to be the greatest composer of all time. One of the best choirs in the world – the Berlin RIAS Kammerchor, founded in 1948 by the American authorities to host the broadcasts of a German-language radio station, and which since the early 2000s has broadened its spectrum to include early music –, the excellent Freiburger Barockorchester (playing on period instruments) and one of the pioneers of the Baroque revival, conductor René Jacobs, are to serve this pinnacle of sacred art. Born two years before the RIAS Choir, the Belgian musician trained with pioneer Alfred Deller, becoming in turn one of the best countertenors of his time. In 1977 he founded his own ensemble, the Concerto Vocale, with whom he revolutionised the interpretation of numerous early masterpieces. Professor at the Schola Cantorum in Basel and then at the Centre de musique baroque de Versailles, he extended his scope to repertoires closer to us, such as his sublime interpretations of Mozart's Italian operas.
This concert will take place a second time on 18th July in the Church of Saanen.