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Disparate in style and well-nigh impossible in its demands, Beethoven’s “solemn mass” is a triumph of aspiration over achievement. Yet the Monteverdi Choir and Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique, recorded at the Barbican a year ago, succeed where most fail.

Gardiner’s intensity of phrasing – speed never the enemy of expression – combines with rapid-fire choral entries and a radiant quartet of soloists to create an incandescent performance, inhibited only by a pale violin solo in the ‘Sanctus’.

Beethoven

Missa Solemnis

John Eliot Gardiner

(SDG)

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