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Bruch: Die Loreley

Michaela Kaune, Magdalena Hinterdobler, Danae Kontora, Thomas Morhr et al; Prague Philharmonic Choir; Munich Radio Orchestra/Stefan Blunier (CPO)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Bruch Die Loreley
Michaela Kaune, Magdalena Hinterdobler, Danae Kontora, Thomas Morhr, Benedikt Eder, Jan-Hendrik Rootering, Thomas Hamberger, Sebastian Campione, Christian Brembeck; Prague Philharmonic Choir; Munich Radio Orchestra/Stefan Blunier
CPO 777 005-2   143:06 mins (3 discs)

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When Mendelssohn died in 1847, he had begun to set a libretto by the poet Emanuel Geibel intended as a vehicle for Jenny Lind on the subject of the Loreley – the fairy spirit who lures sailors to their doom from her rock by the Rhine. Eventually the strong text was passed to Max Bruch, whose setting was composed between 1860-3 and premiered in Mannheim in the latter year. A long-forgotten piece, in this live account recorded in concert at the Prinzregententheater in Munich in 2014 Die Loreley turns out to be very worthwhile. Bruch offers first-rate technical skills, and the idiom – misty Mendelssohnian Romanticism, with a few touches of early Wagner and a certain kinship with Brahms – suits the subject down to the ground. There’s a rich vein of lyricism, while the magic scenes possess an impressive power that recalls Weber.

Here the rich orchestral textures are beautifully realised by the Munich orchestra under Stefan Blunier, while with one or two qualifications the cast realise their roles impeccably – though the sweetly-innocent bargeman’s daughter Lenore who is betrayed by the two-timing Palgrave Otto needs more dramatic impulse and seductive tone than Michaela Kaune supplies, while Jan-Hendrik Rootering is out of tune as the minstrel Reinald. But Thomas Mohr is thoughtful and engaged as the fatally compromised, doomed Otto, and Benedikt Eder proves vital as his seneschal Leopold, while Sebastian Campione is full-toned and compassionate as Lenore’s father Hubert and Magdalena Hinterdobler impassioned as Lenore’s aristocratic rival Bertha.

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George Hall