In the Missa solemnis, it is as if Beethoven has immersed himself deeply into time and into music itself, partially forgetting his own style and evoking the artistry of the old Flemish masters of polyphony. Beethoven composed his Missa solemnis from 1819 until 1823 and dedicated it to Archduke Rudolph, Archbishop of Olomouc at the time.
Into his Missa solemnis, Beethoven encoded a highly personal approach to the Christian liturgy, and at the same time he concentrated into it his compositional mastery at its finest. One is struck not only the uniqueness of the work itself, but also by the remarkable contradiction between the composer’s confidence and artistic ego on the one hand, and his humility before higher authority on the other. The result is a composition that is inappropriate for liturgical performance but that communicates its deep meaning wherever it is heard.
Collegium 1704 and the conductor Václav Luks are among the most capable performers who could take on such a task. Beethoven was neither the first nor the last to create an extraordinary work of this type – the B Minor Mass by Johann Sebastian Bach and the Glagolitic Mass by Leoš Janáček are creative acts of a similar kind. Their performances are always a special event and a great testimony to the relationship of genius to the world’s divine order.