Bruckner: Latin Motets
Latvian Radio Choir/Sigvards Klava (Ondine)
Latvian Radio Choir/Sigvards Klava
Ondine ODE 1362-2 56:38 mins
Anton Bruckner devoted his life and his music ‘to the dear God’, the words he inscribed on the title page of his Ninth Symphony. But all his work, with insignificant exceptions, is dedicated to God, even though He gave the composer a particularly rough time. Worse, perhaps, than anything else was a hopeless lack of confidence, which led Bruckner to indulge in incessant revisions of his works. It was the symphonies that caused him most anxiety, but his choral works weren’t altogether untouched by it. However, most of the works on this excellent disc were written early, even in his teens, and rather than revising he would write a new piece, often to the same words. It probably helped that they were written to be performed in a liturgical context, and in Bruckner’s favourite churches.
None of these pieces is less than radiant, but most of them are also very short, two or three minutes. The longest piece is the first Mass in D minor, though it lacks the Credo and some other parts. Listening to this disc straight through is not recommended; the pieces begin to merge. That is no fault of the admirable Latvian Radio Choir, nor of their director Sigvards Klava. I prefer them to Cambridge’s King’s College Choir, who sound as if they are trying to be angels, while this Latvian choir resounds from the bottom upwards and does sound much more like an anxious congregation praying.