Through some very difficult times too recent to completely forget about, my only consolation was Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis. This is exactly what I am listening to right now, the unsurpassable Karajan & Berliner Philarmoniker 1966 version, more precisely.
I know that those of you who feel agoraphobic towards large scale music will probably consider I am too conceited: consolation is to be sought in small things, after all. Still, this particular work (just like Bach’s Mass in B Minor) is not a triumphalistic piece of theatre, a boisterous counter-Reformist opera for the pious, but a work of genuine spirituality, full of awe against the numinous (as a Personal God in this case). That’s why I feel Missa Solemnis is both large scale and personal; at times low key and, essentially, a lonely non-linear pilgrimage.
Next time you are as fortunate to listen to it, as I am being now, listen to it alone and back to back, focusing on Christe, Benedictus and dona nobis pacem. If there is exaltation of the mind and ecstasy of the spirit, free from soupy mysticisms and abject passiveness, it can also be found in this piece of music.