This Sunday evening, the San Jose Symphonic Choir sings a work they’ve not performed for decades, Beethoven’s gigantic Missa Solemnis. Director Leroy Kromm describes it as an “epic mounting of something that’s almost impossible to do, but so gratifying.” The singers are joined by a large orchestra and soloists for the work, which tends not to be programmed because of its size and difficulty.
There’s more information about the concert at the San Jose Symphonic Choir website.
“It was so important to him, near the end of his life, where he’s just processed and processed the text, and what these words of faith meant,” Kromm says. “He wrote only one other mass, his C Major Mass. And yet, he wrote this with the idea of it being a religious, church-oriented piece, even though it would be impossible to do within a liturgy. But that was his intention, and he spent longer than any piece writing it.” And that meant that the work premiered three years after the event for which it was going to be written, when Beethoven’s friend, Archbishop Rudolf became an archbishop. “It’s a very moody piece, I would say. It goes from fortissimo to triple piano in the course of a few bars, and then big again. It is a piece of struggle, and of real conflict with what one believes and what one sees.” It also calls for large forces, and Kromm says although conducting the work for the first time has been a challenge, the orchestra that they’re playing with is excellent, and as he puts it, raises the bar for the singers.