Pizzetti: Mord in der Kathedrale

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COMPOSERS: Pizzetti
LABELS: DG
WORKS: Mord in der Kathedrale
PERFORMER: Hans Hotter, Kurt Equiluz, Claude Heater, Edmond Hurshell, Anton Dermota; Vienna State Opera Chorus & Orchestra/Herbert von Karajan
CATALOGUE NO: 457 671-2 ADD mono
Ildebrando Pizzetti (1880-1968) was the kind of ‘modern’ opera composer who could be counted on never to frighten the customers. He doesn’t seem to have risked over-exciting them either. Influenced by Debussy rather than Verdi or Puccini, he cultivated an exalted declamatory style which found an ideal subject in Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral. The music respectfully shadows and underpins the poetry, weaving a sparely sombre atmosphere of ‘living and partly living’ but seldom flowering into memorable statement or characterisation. The mono recording is doctored from an imperfect tape of a live 1960 broadcast of a performance in German – hence the retitling of a work conceived by Pizzetti as Assassinio nella cattedrale. Issued to commemorate the 90th anniversary of Karajan’s birth, it is a fascinating souvenir from his directorship of the Vienna Opera. The twice-transmuted text is delivered with impeccable enunciation by Hans Hotter and a superb cast, Hilde Zadek’s lyric rendition of the Prelude to Act II being particularly fine. But would that strait-laced Pizzetti had given them more inspiring material; his treatment of the murderers’ self-righteous speeches in justification of their deed fails Eliot’s drama at its critical point. Patrick Carnegy

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