WRC to sing Haydn and Beethoven

Western Reserve Chorale in concert at Gesu. (photo by K. Bihlers)

There may be other examples of a teacher and student sharing a concert stage, but rarely are both held in such high regard. In this instance, the Western Reserve Chorale (WRC) will share the work of Franz Joseph Haydn (the teacher) and Ludwig van Beethoven (the student) as part of the Silver Hall Concert Series at the Milton and Tamar Maltz Performing Arts Center on March 24.

The chorale will present Haydn’s St. Nicholas Mass with Beethoven’s Mass in C Major. Both works represent the legacy of music commissioned by Prince Nicolaus Esterhazy II for performance in Eisenstadt, Austria. The St. Nicholas Mass is not on the same scale as Haydn’s late masses (it is about half the length of the Nelson Mass) but it is nevertheless quintessential Haydn in its energy, its tunefulness and, above all, its infectious joy.

The Mass in C Major was written at the same time as Beethoven was writing the Symphony No. 5 in C Minor; however, at its premiere, the piece was ill-prepared and not in keeping with that to which Esterhazy had become accustomed from Haydn’s six great masses. Esterhazy did not hold back his criticism, writing, “Beethoven’s Mass is unbearably ridiculous and detestable, and I am not convinced that it can ever be performed properly. I am angry and mortified.” It was the last commission Beethoven would receive from the house of Esterházy.

The Mass was heard by a wider public just over a year later when, in December 1808, it was part of a massive concert at the Theater an der Wien in Vienna. Its durability and popularity over the next two centuries suggests that it was Prince Nicolaus's ear that was at fault and not the Mass.

WRC will perform with orchestra and guest artists Marian Vogel, Joanne Uniatowski, JR Fralick and Brian Keith Johnson. Though the concert is free, tickets are needed and may be reserved. Find the link for tickets and other information at www.westernreservechorale.org. The concert begins at 3 p.m., at the Maltz Performing Arts Center, located at 1855 Ansel Road (off of E. 105th St., in University Circle).

David GIlson

David Gilson is artistic director of the Heights-based Western Reserve Chorale, director of music at Church of the Saviour, and associate dean for student affairs at the Cleveland Institute of Music.

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Volume 12, Issue 3, Posted 1:12 PM, 03.03.2019