The words "Missa Solemnis aus D #" (Missa Solemnis in D major) had been removed from image but designers declined to touch up the grey hair. Poor Beethoven.

However, this amusing detail in no way diminished the authentic stylishness conductor Masaaki Suzuki, the SSO and Philharmonia and a strong group of soloists brought to this warm, beautifully shaped performance.

Suzuki's meticulous fidelity to the composer's phrasing and articulation and his judicious sense of balance allowed the work to blossom, respecting Beethoven's particular fastidiousness to match the music to the words.

In the Mass in C, the choir carries much of the expressive burden and the Philharmonia covered the gamut with concentration and focus, from the exhilarating fugue that concludes the Gloria to quiet unaccompanied passages in the Sanctus.

Soprano Sara Macliver cut through with a distinctive mixture of penetrating ring and warmth while mezzo soprano Anna Dowsley shaded her voice with ominous portentousness in the dark F minor section Qui Tollis Peccata Mundi.

Tenor Benjamin Bruns sang with rounded and coloured smoothness and bass Christian Immler articulated with firm clarity.

The SSO and Suzuki played Haydn's Symphony No. 95 in C minor in the first half with grace, gentleness and attentive care to detail, beautifully coloured highlights from the woodwind and horns and suave, concerto-like solos from cellist Umberto Clerici.


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