Walter’s performance here is both more molded and more overtly spiritual than Toscanini’s celebrated 1940 NBC version (preserved on Music & Arts CD-3259). In the Gloria, Walter finds an ecstatic quality that entirely befits the text of that movement. Concertmaster John Corigliano’s violin solo in the Benedictus displays the same sort of sensitivity conveyed from the podium. But details such as this mean little in the overall perception that this performance of the Missa, a notoriously difficult score to hold together, is a complete entity, conceived from first to last with an overarching sense of the musical whole. This feeling of completeness did not escape critic Olin Downes, who wrote in his review: “It had such a sweep and vision, such human tenderness and pathos that no one thought of details or of the immense obstacles surmounted by the singers. Details and property were secondary considerations. Mr. Walter, fully aware of them, was absorbed in less exterior matters . . . No wonder that the audience was moved, and that the splendid chorus and the singers, especially Miss Merriman and Mr. Alvarez, sang not so much as individuals as they became voices and organic parts of the expressive whole.” Indeed, the audience was moved to the extent that at the close of the performance several seconds of silence preceded the audience’s applause.
BRUNO WALTER CONDUCTS BEETHOVEN. Missa Solemnis in D major, Op. 123. With Philharmonic~Symphony Orchestra, Eleanor Steber, soprano; Nan Merriman, mezzo-soprano; William Hain, tenor; Lorenzo Alvary, bass, the Westminster Choir, John Finley Williamson, Director. Carnegie Hall, 18 April 1948; Total Time: 78:06. State of the art digital restoration in 2004.
Notes by Mark W. Kluge. (AAD) UPC# 0-17685-1142-2.
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