C1124. MISSA SOLEMNIS, recorded 1928, w.Bruno Kittel Cond. Berlin Phil., Bruno Kittel Choir, w.Lotte Leonard, Emmy Land, Eleanor Schlosshauer-Reynolds, Anton Maria Topitz, Eugen Transky, Wilhelm Guttmann, Hermann Schey & Wilfred Hanke; Die Himmel Rühmen des Ewingen Ehre (both Beethoven). (Canada) 2–St Laurent Studio YSL 78-090. [A real discovery here is the contralto Eleanor Schlosshauer-Reynolds, glorious of voice and transcendent in musicality!] Transfers by Yves St Laurent.
“The first recording of the MISSA SOLEMNIS was cut in 1928 by the Berlin Philharmonic led by Bruno Kittel on eleven Polydor 78s, interchanging a total of seven soloists througout the various movements. Kittel was known primarily as a choral director, and the excellence of his choir was acclaimed throughout Europe and preserved in two superb recordings of the Beethoven Ninth by Fried (also 1928) and Furtwängler (1943). Alas, left to his own devices, and as one of Hitler’s favorite (and apparently compliant) musicians, his fame was tarnished by reportedly leading Nazi-commissioned and-themed works and by a 1941 Mozart REQUIEM recording in which he excised all possible references (Zion, Jerusalem) to the Jewish roots of Christianity….As would be expected, the choral singing is rich and forceful (except for a brief blurred Osanna fugetto), and despite dynamic compression, Kittel builds and relaxes his climaxes convincingly. Balances mostly are surprisingly good, even though the soloists occasionally are too prominent and a fair amount of overload distortion obscures the instrumental forces in the loudest passages. Generally, Kittel's leadership is sober and meditative….The work reaches its emotional peak with an extraordinarily measured 23 minute ‘Credo’, in which the shimmering second section, ‘Et incarnatus est’, seems magically suspended in time and effectively sets an aura for the remainder in which drama is subsumed by reverence, somewhat spoiled only by a bland violin solo in the ‘Benedictus’ and a flaccid orchestral fugue in the ‘Agnus Dei’ – although the final timpani strokes are chillingly pronounced. Kittel’s deliberate approach set the pace for many others to come.”
- Peter Gutmann, Classical Notes
“[The] singers are all first-rate and include the soprano Lotte Leonard, one the most popular German concert performers of the period….Bruno Kittel’s choir was one of the finest in the land.”
- Rob Cowan
“Each of these disks, from Canadian engineer Yves St Laurent… [feature] St Laurent's natural transfer – made without filtering, like all his dubbings – it is easy to listen to, despite the surface noise.”
- Tully Potter, CLASSICAL RECORD QUARTERLY, Summer, 2011