Kunzen: The Hallelujah of Creation; Symphony in G minor; Overture on a Theme by Mozart

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LABELS: Dacapo
WORKS: The Hallelujah of Creation; Symphony in G minor; Overture on a Theme by Mozart
PERFORMER: Susanne Elmark, Susse Lillesøe (soprano), Anna Larsson (contralto), Christian Voigt (tenor), Lars Arvidson (bass); Danish National Radio Choir, Danish Radio Sinfonietta/Peter Marschik
CATALOGUE NO: 8.224070
Friedrich Ludwig Aemilius Kunzen was a German contemporary of Mozart who lived in Copenhagen for most of his working life, ending up as Kapellmeister at the Danish court. The oratorio The Hallelujah of Creation was first performed there in 1797, and so pre-dates Haydn’s Creation, whose subject matter it shares, but, alas, not its inspiration. It’s all pleasant and competent enough, but there’s not much sense of the words striking sparks off the composer, and there are constant, quite specific echoes of Haydn and Mozart which become very distracting. It’s a piece that needs a really committed performance to sell it, and that’s where this CD falls short. Apart from the contralto, who has a small role to play, the soloists lack variety of vocal colour, often sounding overstretched in the higher registers and more agile passages. The choral singing is clean and focused, but the orchestral playing is unsuitably heavy, particularly in the strings, and the leader sticks out like a sore thumb. In the two orchestral works, Kunzen does what is expected, but rarely excites by doing the unexpected, and, though the playing is better, especially in the elegant oboe solo in the slow movement of the symphony, it’s still not good enough to rescue this CD. Martin Cotton