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Beethoven: Missa Solemnis, Symphony No.3


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Product Details

  • Audio CD (April 1 2003)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Testament
  • ASIN: B00006S1YO
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #329,440 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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In recent years, and before his death in 2002 at age 90, Gunter Wand had become a household name in the classical world as one of the last great living conductors of the pre-World War II era. But long before his "Indian Summer" success story, Wand made some brilliant recordings that are now being reissued by the Testament label. Popularity found Wand late in life, and one of the reasons may be traced back to a career decision made in the early 1950s. Wand was given the opportunity by Walter Legge to join the great roster of conductors at EMI and make a few recordings, or record a larger body of work with the French subscription music club, Club Francaise du Disque. Wand, always one to put the music first, chose the latter, though the former would have surely brought him fame and fortune more quickly.
This two-disc set presents Wand's 1956 mono recording of Beethoven's 3rd Symphony, and his 1965 stereo recording of "Missa Solemnis," both made with the Orchestra of the Gurzenich of Cologne. This Symphony performance is truly first-rate, and "Missa Solemnis" is thoroughly enjoyable, though I have to confess I am not a huge fan of choral works in general and only own three other accounts of this work in particular (Klemperer, Bernstein and Ormandy). Wand prided himself in a direct, straightforward reading of Beethoven's Orchestral Works, without any extra bells and whistles for emphasis, additions he often criticized his colleagues for including. While Wand's philosophy was a harbinger of the original-instruments movement, make no mistake his orchestra is thoroughly modern.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 2 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
A rapturous account from Wand's peak period April 27 2005
By Larry VanDeSande - Published on Amazon.com
As a young man and college student, this was my favorite recording of Beethoven's "Missa Solemnis" when it was available in USA on two low-priced Nonesuch LPs. I played that record over and over until I learned everything there was to know about this music other than the famous "mental illness" sequence near the end.

What characterized this recording in its original 1960s packaging was its low price, fine recording and the clarity with which Wand and the French producers projected everything (this was originally part of a French club offering before Nonesuch made it available here.) Clarity of voicing and elocution was not a particularly big deal in the 1960s, some time before the now popular period performance rage took over with its fast speeds, old instruments and clarity of voicing.

When I bought this again on the full priced Testament recording, I noticed something about the music I never realized in the 1960s: it is a mightily devotional performance where the exceptionally well-drilled forces project the music with spiritual fervor. Perhaps because I was new to the music 40 years ago and do not particularly enjoy the spiritual approach today, this did not impress me.

However, the music was just as good in 2005 as it was in 1965 and today Peter Schreier is a known quantity. He was an unknown, along with the rest of the cast, when this came out in the 1960s.

I don't think this recording is as competitive economically today as it was then. You can find many fine recordings of this music on a single disk that cost less than the hefty price Testament is asking for this two disk set, and the mono Beethoven "Eroica" that fills out the second disk won't help you forget all your favorites in this music.

Still, this is a worthy contender in the Missa Solemnis sweepstakes and offers fans of Gunther Wand -- who was probably the last in a long time of traditional German conductors that included Furtwangler, Klemperer and Karajan -- to understand how good a conductor he was back when hardly anyone knew about him.

In many ways, I find his music from this early mature period of Wand's more satisfying than his later recordings, especially his last Bruckner recordings, none of which seem to me to completely caputre the aura of this titanic music as well as Wand's earlier recordings.

This disk represents the conductor at his most acute, performing music he knew and understood well. If you like the Missa Solemnis and want a nicely-recorded historic version performed in mainstream style, you cannot do better than this.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Brilliant Beethoven Sept. 22 2003
By Michael Brad Richman - Published on Amazon.com
In recent years, and before his death in 2002 at age 90, Gunter Wand had become a household name in the classical world as one of the last great living conductors of the pre-World War II era. But long before his "Indian Summer" success story, Wand made some brilliant recordings that are now being reissued by the Testament label. Popularity found Wand late in life, and one of the reasons may be traced back to a career decision made in the early 1950s. Wand was given the opportunity by Walter Legge to join the great roster of conductors at EMI and make a few recordings, or record a larger body of work with the French subscription music club, Club Francaise du Disque. Wand, always one to put the music first, chose the latter, though the former would have surely brought him fame and fortune more quickly.
This two-disc set presents Wand's 1956 mono recording of Beethoven's 3rd Symphony, and his 1965 stereo recording of "Missa Solemnis," both made with the Orchestra of the Gurzenich of Cologne. This Symphony performance is truly first-rate, and "Missa Solemnis" is thoroughly enjoyable, though I have to confess I am not a huge fan of choral works in general and only own three other accounts of this work in particular (Klemperer, Bernstein and Ormandy). Wand prided himself in a direct, straightforward reading of Beethoven's Orchestral Works, without any extra bells and whistles for emphasis, additions he often criticized his colleagues for including. While Wand's philosophy was a harbinger of the original-instruments movement, make no mistake his orchestra is thoroughly modern. Wand did not set down a full Beethoven Symphony Cycle at this time -- the 6th and 8th were recorded earlier in the subscription service by another conductor, and duplication was frowned upon. For collectors, this is disappointing but understandable, and for the average fan, I doubt they would pay full-price (x6 discs!) for a Beethoven Cycle anyway. But if you do decide to purchase any or all of these glorious Gunter Wand reissues, you are in for a treat.


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