Emmanuel Tjeknavorian © Lukas Beck
Wiener KammerOrchester / Wiener Singakademie / Tjeknavorian
Mass and power
What on earth does Beethoven's Mass in C major have to do with his 5th Symphony? The setting of the Catholic Ordinary of the Mass with the apotheosis of political and individual freedom? No more, one could say, than that both works»"met« each other in the composer's great academy on December 22, 1808. On this memorable evening in the Theater an der Wien, the rapidly deafening Beethoven not only performed publicly as a pianist for the last time. In a marathon four-hour concert, he also launched his 5th and 6th Symphonies, his 4th Piano Concerto, and the Choral Fantasy op. 80. In each of the two halves of the concert, one movement from the Mass in C major was performed: the Gloria in the first part, the Sanctus in the second. Emmanuel Tjeknavorian can therefore refer to this historical event when he places both works on the program of this concert of the Vienna Chamber Orchestra. A certain commonality also results from the incomprehension and rejection that Beethoven's music often met with among his contemporaries. With the Mass in particular, the revolutionary-minded artist so enraged his patron Nicholas II Esterházy that the latter was carried away to a less than noble outburst: »Beethoven's Mass is unbearably ridiculous and atrocious [...], I am angry and ashamed.« A judgment that has survived along with the noble predicate thrown into the scale.