WORKS: Naomi and Ruth Op. 27; Sacred Service for the Sabbath Eve, Op. 122
PERFORMER: Soloists; New York Cantorial Choir/Neil Levin; Academy and Chorus of St Martin-in-the-Fields/Sir Neville Marriner; The London Chorus/Ronald Corp
CATALOGUE NO: 8.559404
Schwarz also steers a convincing course through Milhaud’s Service Sacré. Much of this large-scale 1940s work is gentle and contemplative with only a few moments of dramatic intensity. As with so much by this enormously prolific composer, Service Sacré is fluent and expertly scored but strikes me as lacking in truly memorable material. Nonetheless the style is distinctive and recognisable, and operates at a much higher level of musical sophistication than the relatively anodyne Sacred Service for the Sabbath Eve as set by the Italian émigré Castelnuovo-Tedesco. The sincerity of his message is not in question, but too much of the music in this and other works on this disc is dull and predictable, with an over-reliance on imitation to spin out the musical argument. This impression is compounded by a rather lacklustre performance from the London Chorus who sound distinctly unengaged by what they are singing.