Written from the heart - may it go - to the heart!

Frieder Bernius rehearses the Missa Solemnis by Ludwig van Beethoven (documentary 60 min.)

For the occasion of the 50 year anniversary of his Stuttgarter Kammerchor Frieder Bernius rehearses the Missa solemnis op.123 by Ludwig van Beethoven. With Johanna Winkel, Sopran | Sophie Harmsen, Alt | Sebastian Kohlhepp, Tenor | Arttu Kataja, Bass and the Hofkapelle Stuttgart.

The film is available on DVD for 20.00 € plus shipping costs and can be ordered by sending an e-mail to bestellungen@inpetto-filmproduktion.de.

Trancripts of rehearsals
Film transcript

Filmmaker Uli Aumüller followed Frieder Bernius from the moment Bernius accepted to take on Ludwig van Beethovens late work - his Missa solemnis op. 123. Aumüller was present while Bernius studied Beethoven's score in detail, and watched how he specifically marked every note of every musician (which was not at all common during Beethoven's days).

The complete rehearsal period was closely observed with the use of many cameras, rehearsing with the principal musicians of the orchestra, with the strings, the wind players and the different voice groups of the choir. He also filmed how Bernius rehearsed with every (!) single member of the choir individually and how he familiarised himself with this many voiced work by playing it on the piano so, according to him, he would sense it in his fingers. The film shows how long the conductor worked on the piece and how he burried himself into it before he climbed onto the rostrum for the first rehearsal and how, in the end, an interpreatation of the Missa solemnis appears of which the CD-recording is acclaimed by the press.

50 Years Stuttgarter Kammerchor

Frieder Bernius, over 70 years old, founded his Kammerchor Stuttgart more then 50 years ago and to celebrate this anniversary and for the second time in his career he takes on Beethoven's late work, his Missa solemnis op. 123. During the last five decades Frieder Bernius has earned great respect for his contribution to the choir culture, and specially in Baden-Württemberg. He is known as a perfecionist who sets high standards and is a role model for many choirs and their choirmasters. Bernius is famous for his full round, sensual and warm tone. He is rated as master of the soft nuances - so quite the opposite of what Beethoven's Misa solemnis represents. Also Nikolaus Harnoncourt made a version with a huge choir and orchestra, and had soloists bellow rather than sing.

Filmmaker Uli Aumüller followed Frieder Bernius.

He was present when Bernius accepted the challenge to study Beethoven's partitur and how he denoted every note of every musician (whch was not done during Beethoven's time). The film shows how Bernius practices with every single member of the choir individually, how he makes the work his own on the piano until he, as he puts it, senses it in his fingers. With several cameras Aumüller followed the rehearsal period, seperate rehaersals with the principals in the orchestra, strings and winds, and rehearsals with the different voice groups in the choir. He filmed in the Klosterkirche in Alpirsbach when Bernius, with endless retakes, recorded the Missa solemnis CD.

Is this inspiration or is it simply tireless and tedious hard work or both? Aumüllers film shows the complexity of what it means to be a director and how long it actually takes to get familiar with a work and make it your own before climbing on the rostrum for the first rehearsal. We also hear wonderful music when just part of the orchestra or just individual choir singers make music, and we witness how in the end all parts and layers come together during the rehearsal period and finally become one piece. The result at the end is a recording of the Missa solemnis conducted by Frieder Bernius whose interpretation is highly acclaimed by the press: "He understands that it is essential to treat the framework as one structure, everything is connected. He achieved a sensible balance."

Cast & Crew

Uli Aumüller