FRIEDER BERNIUS REHEARSES "Missa solemnis" BY LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN - with Johanna Winkel, soprano | Sophie Harmsen, alto | Sebastian Kohlhepp, tenor | Arttu Kataja, bass and the Hofkapelle Stuttgart.
A film by Uli Aumüller
Filmmaker Uli Aumüller follows Frieder Bernius from the moment he accepts to take on the task to direct Ludwig van Beethovens late work: Missa solemnis op.123.
How he meticulously studies the score and tags notes belonging specifically to every single musician (which was not done at all in Beethoven's time). With many cameras Aumüller follows the general process during rehearsals. He films individual rehearsals with the leading performers of the orchestra, as well as the strings, the brass and the different voice groups of the choir. He registered how Bernius rehearsed with every single member of the choir and how he played the polyphonic work on the piano so he was able to 'feel it in his fingers'. The film reveals how long the director has to work to familiarise himself with the piece before he steps up to the rostrum and is able to record an interpretation on CD that is highly applauded by the press.
50 Jahre Stuttgarter Kammerchor
Almost 50 years ago Frieder Bernius started his chamber choir in Stuttgart - and now, he is well over 70, for the second time in his career he marks this occasion by taking on Ludwig van Beethoven's opus summum: Missa solemnis op.123 again. Over the past five decades Frieder Bernius acquired a lot of merit within the choral culture of Baden-Württemberg. He is said to be a perfectionist who sets the standard and he is an example to many choirs and their conductors. Bernius is famous for a full round, intense and warm sound. He is a master of soft nuances - an exact opposite of what Beethoven's Missa solemnis stood for. Even Nikolaus Harnoncourt, conducting a huge choir and orchestra, made soloists bellow and the choir scream instead of making them sing.
Filmmaker Uli Aumüller tagged along with Frieder Bernius. He observes how Bernius decides to make a close study of Beethoven's score and accurately denotes every note of every singer. The film lets you experience how Bernius rehearses with each member of the choir, how he performs the polyphonic piece on the piano so he is able to feel it in his fingers. Aumüller observes individual rehearsals with the principals, the strings, the winds and vocal groups and the overall rehearsals with the orchestra.
Aumüller also filmed in the abbey of Alpirsbach to capture the skill and musical genius of Frieder Bernius while little by little and with endless repetitions he recorded the Missa solemnis for CD. Do we witness inspiration or laborious, diligent and tireless hard work. Or both?
In Aumüllers film we experience the all-roundness of the profession of a director. How long it takes him to really get acquainted with the work and how long he has to bury himself into the piece before he steps onto the rostrum to conduct the first rehearsal. We hear the wonderful music performed by either one part of the orchestra or just a few choristers. We hear how, during the rehearsals, all parts and layers slowly culminate into one big ensemble.
In the end the result is an interpretation of the Missa solemnis by Frieder Bernius on CD that is highly acclaimed by the press. The importance is that he understands the piece as one consistent structure wherein everything is connected.
"There must be a proper balance."