WORKS: Das Lied von der Glocke
PERFORMER: Ute Selbig (soprano), Elisabeth Graf (alto), Matthias Bleidorn (tenor), André Eckert (bass); Singakademie Dresden, Dresden State Opera Chorus, Dresden PO/Hans-Christoph Rademann
CATALOGUE NO: DCTH 2291/2 DDD
Bruch is saddled with being a one-work composer (the G minor Violin Concerto) but that is unjust. In his own day, he was also famous as a choral composer, even in Britain. In post-unified Germany of 1871, the subjects of many of his secular oratorios (of which he was a pioneer composer) were Greek heroes such as Odysseus and Achilles, or biblical ones like Moses, but he also turned to one of Germany’s great poets, Schiller. The Lay of the Bell, composed in 1878, is an allegorical poem using the casting processes of a new bell to portray the many episodes in the life of man, from birth to death.
These discs make a strong case for a revival of Bruch’s choral works (Moses will be recorded next year). In the spacious resonance of Dresden’s Kreuzkirche, the city’s orchestra and the church’s organ perform admirably; the four soloists impress less as individuals, but blend excellently (there is a glorious trio in Part II). The best singing comes from the wonderful chorus. For the collector of choral rarities or for those wanting something new, this is a splendidly tuneful work (from folksong to Christmas carol), skilfully composed and colourfully orchestrated. Highly recommended. Christopher Fifield