Belgian National Orchestra – Hugh Wolff conductor – Camilla Tilling soprano – Marianne Beate Kielland mezzo-soprano – Thomas Walker tenor – Hanno Müller-Brachmann bass – Capella Amsterdam – Ensemble Vocal de Lausanne
Missa solemnis, op. 123 Ludwig van Beethoven
The young Beethoven strongly believed in the ideals of the Enlightenment, a free brotherhood of equals. That is why he composed a symphony dedicated to Napoleon Bonaparte, who would end up the feudal system following the French Revolution. When Bonaparte crowned himself emperor, however, Beethoven scratched his name from the score, crying out: “He will trample all the rights of man, and only indulge his ambition and become a tyrant!”.
In his Missa Solemnis Beethoven no longer places all his trust in a single person, but in humanity. A mass is by definition a religious composition and is addressed to God. The philosopher Theodor Adorno, however, posits that Beethoven questions faith in the Christian God in his Missa. The extensive repetition of the word “Credo” – I believe – sounded to him like ‘an emphatic affirmation of faith, to the lonely man and to others’. The huge choir is also too large for many cathedrals, making this hefty composition more suited for performance in a concert hall. As such, the work literally breaks out of the walls of faith, which is why many consider it a universal mass for humanity.