Bruch: Moses

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WORKS: Moses
PERFORMER: Michael Volle (baritone), Robert Gambill (tenor), Elizabeth Whitehouse (soprano); Bamberg SO & Chorus/Claus Peter Flor
The music of Bruch has a serious foothold on the catalogues, with the record companies now exploring the choral works for which he was just as famous during his lifetime as he was for the Violin Concerto in G minor. The best secular oratorios (The Lay of the Bell and Odysseus) are now recorded by Thorofon and Koch respectively, while his biblical oratorio Moses is the latest offering. What Bruch may lack in harmonic inventiveness he more than makes up for with his gift for melody and orchestral colour in the ‘Song of Praise for Moses, Aaron and the People’, given a full-throated account by the good burghers of Bamberg, The role of Moses, like that of Odysseus, requires a Heldenbaritone with considerable vocal stamina and power, qualities in abundance with Michael Volle. The Australian soprano Elizabeth Whitehouse makes an uneasy angelic start but later warms to her role, while Robert Gambill and the chorus are best in the thrilling excitement of the Orgy of the Golden Calf which ends part one. The second part begins with the Chorus of Spies (no sopranos in the three-part writing) and is beautifully sung to produce a magical effect and its tempo impeccably judged by Flor. Christopher Fifield