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Paul E. Robinson
La Scena Musicale, June 2013

The Beethoven quartet recorded here is rarely done in a version for string orchestra…the VPO makes the best possible case for the transcription and Bernstein conducts with great insight in this 1989 performance.

The Haydn Mass in Time of War was recorded in 1984 in an extraordinarily beautiful setting…Bernstein was…an authoritative Haydn interpreter. This is a wonderful performance. © 2013 La Scena Musicale Read complete review

James A. Altena
Fanfare, January 2013

BEETHOVEN, L. van: String Quartet No. 16 / HAYDN, J.: Missa in tempore belli, “Paukenmesse” (Bernstein) (NTSC) 711508
BEETHOVEN, L. van: String Quartet No. 16 / HAYDN, J.: Missa in tempore belli, “Paukenmesse” (Bernstein) (Blu-ray, HD) 711604

[Leonard Bernstein]…leads a performance of rapt intensity, with the incomparable advantage of the string section of the Vienna Philharmonic at his command.

The performance [of the Haydn Mass]…is…a feast for the eyes as well as the ears, as it was given in the massive, ornate, soaring Baroque basilica of the Ottobeuren Abbey in the far southwestern corner of Bavaria. It’s a visual knockout, like having a free museum tour thrown in with the concert, and certainly gives one a great deal more to watch than does the typical concert video.

As someone who does watch concert videos with pleasure, I thoroughly enjoyed this, and recommend it unhesitatingly. © 2013 Fanfare Read complete review, August 2012

It is intriguing to watch Bernstein conduct Haydn’s “Mass in Time of War” (this recording dates to 1984), and the work is certainly well-played and beautifully sung: the soloists, all quite fine, are soprano Judith Blegen, contralto Brigitte Fassbaender, tenor Claes H. Ahnsjö and bass Hans Sotin. The performance is large-scale, emotive and…certainly heartfelt. And the string-orchestra version of Beethoven’s final quartet (op. 135) is fascinating: recorded in 1989, less than a year before Bernstein’s death, the performance features the wonderfully lush strings of the Vienna Philharmonic and an interpretation that showcases both the music’s emotionalism and its still-surprising modernity. This DVD has much to recommend it… © 2012 Read complete review

Hank Zauderer
My Classical Notes, August 2012

Leonard Bernstein’s interpretations of Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 16 and Haydn’s “Missa in tempore belli” are really quite amazing. Only the strings of the Vienna Philharmonic could carry off the orchestral rendition of Beethoven’s opus 135 with a special style, since each player is a true soloist.

Bernstein and the orchestra wanted to play a difficult Beethoven Quartet in a special setting, achieving a truly exciting performance unlike anything one ever hears. Performed by Judith Blegen (soprano), Brigitte Fassbaender (mezzo), Claes H. Ahnsjö (tenor), Hans Sotin (bass), as accompanied by the Sinfonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks. We get to experience Bernstein’s powerful and now legendary live performance of Beethoven’s String Quartet Op. 135—transcribed for String Orchestra and performed by the Vienna Philharmonic. And the second Bernstein performance on this DVD is the maestro’s reading of Haydn’s Missa in tempore belli, filmed live in concert at Ottobeuren in 1984, using to maximum effect the deeply impressive setting of the monastery’s magnificent Baroque basilica. © 2012 My Classical Notes Read complete review

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