Opera Scotland

Missa Solemnis 1970Edinburgh International Festival

Read more about the opera Missa Solemnis

1970 was the bicentenary of Beethoven's birth, an event the Festival could not ignore, even had it wanted to. The Edinburgh Festival Chorus opened proceedings with the First and Ninth Symphonies. A quartet of eminent British-based singers - Heather Harper, Janet Baker, Ronald Dowd and Raimund Herincx - gathered. The only cause for sadness was the fact that the originally announced conductor, Sir John Barbirolli, had died on 29 June.

Later in the week came this performance of the noble Missa Solemnis, the perfect work to illustrate the special qualities of that most spiritual of conductors, Carlo Maria Giulini. The two ladies, perfectly cast, were as for the opening concert. Franz Crass was perhaps the best German bass of his generation, with a beautifully modulated voice. With benefit of hindsight it seems strange that the singer few had heard live and hardly anyone had heard of, was Mr Domingo - at the start of his international all-conquering career.

The closing concert of the Festival saw the Chorus join with Alexander Gibson and the SNO. The second symphony would be sandwiched between the starter - the 5th 'Emperor' Concerto - and the cheerful Choral Fantasia. The pianist in the opening and closing works was Sir Clifford Curzon.

Daniel Barenboim, as pianist, indeed not yet known as a conductor, took a prominent role in the first week, playing alongside his wife, cellist Jacqueline du Pré in two all-Beethoven recitals in the Usher Hall, before accompanying Fischer-Dieskau in an all Beethoven programme at the same venue. The opera Fidelio was missing, of course, but then Scottish Opera had performed it in the spring, with a further tour scheduled for the autumn.

Performance DatesMissa Solemnis 1970

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Usher Hall | Edinburgh

27 Aug, 20.00

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