Koppel: Moses

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Koppel
LABELS: Dacapo
WORKS: Moses
PERFORMER: Elisabeth Meyer-Topsøe (soprano), Kirsten Dolberg (mezzo-soprano), Kurt Westi, Michael Kristensen (tenor), Per Høyer (baritone), Christian Christiansen (bass); Danish National RSO & Choir/Owain Arwel Hughes
CATALOGUE NO: 8.224046
Not just the Moses story but the Creation and the testing of Abraham feature in this substantial, dramatic and exciting Danish oratorio. First heard in 1965, Moses draws on a clutch of Biblical texts and uses a variety of early 20th-century modernism and bitonality to fashion its quite distinctive and modern voice.

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A humanist sensibility akin to A Child of Our Time peers through in the cantilena solo recitatives, peppered by a flow of powerful, daunting and sometimes aptly sombre orchestration.

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The late Kurt Westi makes a first-rate tenor Fortaeller (narrator) and he, along with baritone Per Høyer, brings a Fischer-Dieskau-like dramatic urgency to the discovery of the Golden Calf. Elisabeth Meyer-Topsøe, a Birgit Nilsson pupil, lends poignancy to the angst-ridden, reflective soprano arias, which underline the work’s intermittent feel of an Old Testament Passion. Here is a work of Magyar dark hues, yet it also clearly stands in its own line of descent from Nielsen’s Saul and David. The excellent, alert Danish National Radio Choir just misses the lucidity of words shown by the soloists, and Koppel’s final Alleluias feel a bit clogged. But otherwise, a performance of distinction. Roderic Dunnett