Rafi Zabor’s Updoc Fri 12/27 & Tues 12/31

Someone opined on the Gramophone website, “The Missa Solemnis must be terrifying for anyone who is smaller than a supernova,” but for me it’s the one piece of music that, listened to in depth and meditated, can exhilarate me to the point of madness, or at least mania; and that goes double, triple, triple-double for the live 1939 performance of it by Arturo Toscanini and the BBC Orchestra and Chorus: beware of being rocketed into space somewhere in the middle of the Gloria. It’s full of Toscanini drive and vigor but there’s more flexible fire than in the better-known Toscanini of the New York ‘50s, and extra urgency in London, in May of that year, with the War massing just across the water as the great liberator Beethoven speaks from his heart to ours. As in most performances it’s mostly about the three middle movements, and you’ll have to hear it to believe it. The recorded sound is excellent and it will get you there. Also on this week’s Updoc—Friday at 8PM and noon next Tuesday, von Brooklyn time—are William Byrd’s Mass for Five Voices, sung by Stile Antico, and a couple of Mike Westbrook’s settings of the great liberator William Blake as trumpet-voiced by the great Phil Minton. And Lester Bowie playing with the bells Before Christmas just after Christmas, in the opaceous bosom of the sleeper and bright as fire. William Blake said that, and Beethoven didn’t win points for neatness on this page of the Missa.MissaBlake

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