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CD Review

Max Bruch

K&K 96

Moses

Oratorio, Op. 67
  • Peter Lika
  • Stefan Vinke
  • Brigitte Christensen
Maulbronn Choir
Russian Chamber Philharmonic, St. Petersburg/Jurgen Budday
K&K Verlagsanstalt KUK96 120m 2CDs
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K&K is not a label that comes readily to mind, but after listening to this version of Bruch's Oratorio, it is certainly one that should be given more scrutiny. German based, it is totally devoted to publishing outstanding concerts of mostly sacred works recorded live in the natural ambience of Maulbronn Monastery.

The aim of all this is to make the listener experience the intensity, not only of the music but of the occasion as well. Bruch's 'Moses', premièred in January 1895, is a truly eloquent and uplifting piece very much in the 'Elijah' tradition although I found the choral writing a hint Mendelssohnian. Apparently, Brahms did not think very highly of it but Bruch revealed that it was the fruit of inner strength that enabled him to complete this work.

I enjoyed the work immensely notwithstanding Brahms' advice and found much to savour in the memorable tunes that permeate the solo numbers with Moses' death particularly moving. Both soloists and choir rise magnificently to the occasion, delivering performances that are grandiose yet saturated with a humanity that was so evident in Israel's rapport with God.

The Russian Chamber Philharmonic play full bloodedly and with conviction under Jurgen Budday, who while keeping a tight reign on proceedings, allows the performance to flow with a natural ease. The libretto is rather poor with no text or translations available with the scant historic details certainly no compensation for such omissions. However these are small qualms against an excellent project that deserves every plaudit for its unique enterprise.

Copyright © 2005, Gerald Fenech

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