Well, someone has to do this job, forced to listen to two Beethoven masterpieces within three days: first the Violin Concerto on Thursday, then the mighty Missa Solemnis on Saturday.
Jeffrey Skidmore and his Ex Cathedra (fully expanded) were joined by the CBSO in a fluent, natural account in which the composer's cruel demands both on singers and players were so expertly assimilated into Beethoven's confrontation with God. Beethoven takes no prisoners (all the sounds were trapped in his head by this time of his life), and Skidmore and company responded unflinchingly and devotedly.
There were two special things in this performance: Skidmore's thoughtful and appreciative programme-notes which set the context, and the welcome prominence given to the organ (the excellent Alexander Mason), an element which is so often reduced to virtual nothingness, almost as an embarrassment; it is not, and Beethoven notated its part assiduously.
As we always confidently expect from the Ex Cathedra, the chorus was well-shaped and attentive. Soloists (departing from Ex Cathedra's general tenet of drawing them from the body of the choir itself) were not so successful, tremulous, gaping-mouthed and generally negative in contribution -- except for the ever-reliable and composer-devoted Roderick Williams, warm, authoritative, and always putting the awesome message of the music first.
Gripe, though. Why an interval? Bach B minor Mass, Verdi Requiem. Elgar Gerontius, and this Beethoven; the continuity should not be broken, never mind the bar-takings.