Critics have often been a little nervous about Beethoven's "Missa Solemnis." To some, it has a fragmented quality about it, especially in the final movement, the Agnus Dei.
Craig Hella Johnson, artistic director of the Victoria Bach Festival, even suggests that the final phrases of the work leave the atmosphere unsettled, with questions still to be answered. These observations are not to be critical, for Beethoven knew what he was doing. This is why Dr. Johnson suggests, and believes, that Beethoven is saving his final argument for his "Symphony No. 9, Choral." The two works, "Missa Solemnis" and the "Choral Symphony" are, after all, separated by only one other composition, "Consecration of the House."
Craig Hella Johnson leads a massed chorus which combines members of his Austin-based Conspirare, the Victoria Bach Festival Chorus, and members of the Texas State University Chorus in a performance of Beethoven's "Missa Solemnis" as the final offering in this year's Victoria Bach Festival.
The program repeats on Sunday, at the Long Center for the Performing Arts in Austin.