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Loewe: Passion Oratorio / Reinemann, Et Al


Release Date: 06/20/2006 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8557635   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Carl Loewe
Performer:  Nathalie GaudefroyJacky da CunhaHenk NevenEdwin Crossley-Mercer,   ... 
Conductor:  Udo Reinemann
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble des Heures Romantiques
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 37 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Today Carl Loewe is almost exclusively remembered as a composer of songs and ballads, many of them settings of Goethe. He wrote more than four hundred, thus challenging even his almost contemporary Franz Schubert. But he wrote a lot more: operas, oratorios and other choral works, chamber and piano music and two symphonies. Even in his lifetime his fame rested primarily on his songs – being an excellent singer he often performed them himself. Those who have heard his songs know that besides a nice melodic gift he also possessed a natural feeling for drama – his setting of Erlkönig is worthy of a place beside Schubert’s. Thus it came as no great surprise to learn that he also turned to oratorio as a means of expression.

In
Read more Stettin, where Loewe spent most of his life as organist and musical director, he conducted Bach’s St Matthew Passion in 1831, only two years after Mendelssohn had revived it, and it is obvious that the Passion Oratorio is influenced by ‘the fifth evangelist’ with recitatives, arias, chorals and choruses. Where he differs from Bach is that he doesn’t employ an evangelist, instead the narrative is allotted to different soloists. The tonal language is very much of its time, mid 19th century but there are baroque influences as well: several choruses are fugues. He also avoids ‘big’ numbers. There are no heavenly long choruses as the final one in St Matthew Passion and the arias are rarely more than 2–3 minutes.

The oratorio was written for fairly modest forces: a handful of soloists, a chorus (moderately sized – the group here has 22 members) and a string orchestra and an organ. Whether Loewe intended the orchestra to be of chamber music size I don’t know – here it is a string quartet + double bass. The lack of wind instruments lessens the possibilities to colour the music but it works surprisingly well with this pocket-size, too. The string group is balanced well forward with the chorus at some distance and the soloists seem to be somewhere between. Whether this was the sound the audience at this recorded concert experienced I don’t know, but it is good to hear so much of the strings and the inventive use of them: sometimes playing with mutes, sometimes tremolo effects to heighten the tension and also some pizzicato playing. In a few places there are obbligato solos behind the vocal proceedings, notably in the Chorus of the Daughters of Sion in Part III (CD2 tr. 3), where the cello provides some dramatic comments. Generally speaking Loewe achieves much with little and there is no lack of variation. The strings even have a little Larghetto on their own (CD1 tr. 7). Since this is a live recording there has to be some intrusive noises. These occur mainly when the chorus stand up or sit down. At a live performance this is part of the concept, for repeated listening it may be annoying to some. I noticed it and got used to it. The presence of an audience is noticeable only in the shape of applause after the final chorus.

Udo Reinemann, well known as a singer and teacher - some of the singers have studied with him - has picked a group of young musicians and singers for this occasion. It doesn’t say anywhere whether the Ensemble Instrumental and Vocal is a permanent group or a pick-up gang for this festival. Some rough edges in the choral singing leads me to think that they may not perform together on a regular basis. There is enthusiasm a-plenty, though and the dramatic choruses are done with nerve – and verve. The string group is really excellent. Always when hearing a piece of music for the first time, not spoilt by alternative readings or recordings, one has to trust that this is the way the music was intended – unless there are obvious mistakes and miscalculations. Knowing quite a few of Loewe’s songs I think that Reinemann and his forces have caught his intentions well and the overriding impression is one of sorrow, drama and contemplation in a varied score.

Of the soloists the bass, Henk Neven, has the heaviest burden and he also seems to be the most accomplished singer. He has a splendid bass-baritone, expressive, steady and his declamation is lively and involved. He becomes ever better the further the oratorio proceeds and the agitated recitative and bass aria in Part II (CD1 trs. 18, 19) show him at his very best. He is one to watch in the future. The tenor, Jacky da Cunha, has less to sing but his is an eager and lively delivery. The soprano, Nathalie Gaudefroy, has a light and bright and possibly fairly small voice, if the microphones can be trusted, but it can also be that she is positioned further away from the microphone than the others. Anyway she makes a nice impression and she has some of the most beautiful solos. Contralto Christianne Stotjin is equipped with a big vibrant voice; at first I thought it was a size too large and unwieldy with a vibrato one expects from a well-versed Wagnerian mezzo but it turned out after a while that the voice was under control and once she had settled she sang her part with feeling. Her Part II aria (CD1 tr. 15) is a fine calling card.

More experienced soloists and a more homogenous chorus might have given us an even stronger performance but there is something to be gained with this smaller scale as well and the obvious enthusiasm of all involved brings a lot of compensation.

The booklet gives us all the information we need, bar the complete texts, which as usual have to be downloaded from the internet, to a cost that goes beyond the impecunious’ means, but Keith Anderson’s detailed synopsis is a good substitute.

A rarity no doubt and probably not a forgotten master-piece, but a pleasing version of the passion story, enthusiastically performed by young musicians. I don’t regret having heard it and will certainly give it the occasional hearing in the future too.

-- Göran Forsling, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1. Das Sühnopfer des neuen Bundes by Carl Loewe
Performer:  Nathalie Gaudefroy (Soprano), Jacky da Cunha (Tenor), Henk Neven (Baritone),
Edwin Crossley-Mercer (Bass), Christianne Stotijn (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Udo Reinemann
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble des Heures Romantiques
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1847; Germany 
Date of Recording: 08/02/2003 
Venue:  Live  Saint Jean Baptiste Church, Til-Chatel, 
Length: 96 Minutes 37 Secs. 
Language: German 

Sound Samples

Das Suhnopfer des neuen Bundes (The Expiatory Sacrifice of the New Covenant): Part I No. 1: Introduction and Quartet (Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass)
Das Suhnopfer des neuen Bundes (The Expiatory Sacrifice of the New Covenant): Part I No. 2: Chorale: Gegrusst sei, Furst des Lebens (Hail, Prince of Life)
Das Suhnopfer des neuen Bundes (The Expiatory Sacrifice of the New Covenant): Part I No. 3: Recitative and Arioso: Da nun Jesus war zu Bethanien (Then Jesus came to Bethany) (Soprano)
Das Suhnopfer des neuen Bundes (The Expiatory Sacrifice of the New Covenant): Part I No. 4: Recitative and Terzetto: Da das Judas sahe (When Judas saw it) (Bass, Tenor, Bass)
Das Suhnopfer des neuen Bundes (The Expiatory Sacrifice of the New Covenant): Part I No. 5: Recitative: Da sprach Jesus: Lasset Maria mit Frieden (Then said Jesus: Let Mary alone) (Soprano)
Das Suhnopfer des neuen Bundes (The Expiatory Sacrifice of the New Covenant): Part I No. 6: Chorale: O du Zuflucht der Elenden (O thou refuge of the needy)
Das Suhnopfer des neuen Bundes (The Expiatory Sacrifice of the New Covenant): Part I No. 7: Larghetto con moto
Das Suhnopfer des neuen Bundes (The Expiatory Sacrifice of the New Covenant): Part I No. 8: Duet: Wie der Herr es uns geheissen (As the Lord hath bidden us) (Peter, John)
Das Suhnopfer des neuen Bundes (The Expiatory Sacrifice of the New Covenant): Part I No. 9: Lobet ihr Knechte des Herrn (Praise the Lord, ye servants) (Chorus of the Apostles)
Das Suhnopfer des neuen Bundes (The Expiatory Sacrifice of the New Covenant): Part I No. 10: Recitative and Chorus: Und Jesus sprach: Mich hat herzlich verlanget (I have desire to eat this Passover) (Bass, Chorus)
Das Suhnopfer des neuen Bundes (The Expiatory Sacrifice of the New Covenant): Part I No. 11: Recitative and Chorale: Da sie aber assen, nahm Jesus das Brot (After they had eaten, Jesus took the bread) (Bass, Tutti)
Das Suhnopfer des neuen Bundes (The Expiatory Sacrifice of the New Covenant): Part I No. 12: Lobet ihr Knechte des Herrn (Praise the Lord, ye servants) (Chorus)
Das Suhnopfer des neuen Bundes (The Expiatory Sacrifice of the New Covenant): Part II No. 13: Chorus and Recitative: Auf, mit Schwertern, Speer und Stangen (Up, with sword, spear and stave) (Chorus, Bass)
Das Suhnopfer des neuen Bundes (The Expiatory Sacrifice of the New Covenant): Part II No. 14: Chorale: Wenn alle untreu werden (When all are untrue)
Das Suhnopfer des neuen Bundes (The Expiatory Sacrifice of the New Covenant): Part II No. 15: Aria: Heil'ge Nacht, hell von der Liebe Schein (Holy night, bright with the shining of love) (Alto)
Das Suhnopfer des neuen Bundes (The Expiatory Sacrifice of the New Covenant): Part II No. 16: Duet: Da traten herzu zweeen falsche Zeugen (There came two false witnesses) (Soprano, Tenor)
Das Suhnopfer des neuen Bundes (The Expiatory Sacrifice of the New Covenant): Part II No. 17: Recitative: Und der Hohepriester stand auf (And the High Priest arose) (Bass)
Das Suhnopfer des neuen Bundes (The Expiatory Sacrifice of the New Covenant): Part II No. 18: Recitative and Chorus: Ich beschwore dich (I abjure thee by the living God) (Christ, High Priests and Pharisees)
Das Suhnopfer des neuen Bundes (The Expiatory Sacrifice of the New Covenant): Part II No. 19: Aria: Weh' mir, wohin soll ich entfliehn? (Alas, where should I flee?) (Bass)
Das Suhnopfer des neuen Bundes (The Expiatory Sacrifice of the New Covenant): Part II No. 20: Chorale: Ach bleib mit deiner Gnade (Ah, abide among us with thy grace)
Das Suhnopfer des neuen Bundes (The Expiatory Sacrifice of the New Covenant): Part II No. 21: Recitative: Pilatus ging hinein in das Richthaus (Pilate went into the hall of justice) (Christ, Pilate)
Das Suhnopfer des neuen Bundes (The Expiatory Sacrifice of the New Covenant): Part II No. 22: Recitative and Aria: Da aber Pilatus auf dem Richtstuhle sass... (But then Pilate sat down on the judgement seat...) (Soprano)
Das Suhnopfer des neuen Bundes (The Expiatory Sacrifice of the New Covenant): Part II No. 23: Recitative and Chorus: Ihr Kinder Israels, ich finde keine Schuld (Ye children of Israel, I find no fault) (Pilate, Chorus)
Das Suhnopfer des neuen Bundes (The Expiatory Sacrifice of the New Covenant): Part II No. 24: Lass ihn kreuzigen (Crucify him) (Chorus) - Recitative: Nun denn, ich bin unschuldig (I am innocent of the blood) (Pilate)
Das Suhnopfer des neuen Bundes (The Expiatory Sacrifice of the New Covenant): Part II No. 25: Sein Blut komme uber uns (His blood be upon us) (Chorus)
Das Suhnopfer des neuen Bundes (The Expiatory Sacrifice of the New Covenant): Part II No. 26: Aria: Ach seht, der allen wohlgethan (Ah see, he who has brought good to all) (Alto)
Das Suhnopfer des neuen Bundes (The Expiatory Sacrifice of the New Covenant): Part II No. 27: Recitative and Chorale: Sehet, ich fuhre ihn heraus zu euch... (See, I bring him out to you...) (Tenor, Tutti)
Das Suhnopfer des neuen Bundes (The Expiatory Sacrifice of the New Covenant): Part III No. 28: O, welch ein Anblick (O what a sight) (Tenor)
Das Suhnopfer des neuen Bundes (The Expiatory Sacrifice of the New Covenant): Part III No. 29: Chorus: Hort den Simon von Kyrene (Hear Simon of Cyrene) (Chorus, Tenor)
Das Suhnopfer des neuen Bundes (The Expiatory Sacrifice of the New Covenant): Part III No. 30: Fliesset, ihr unaufhaltsamen Thranen (Flow, ye ceaseless tears) (Daughters of Sion)
Das Suhnopfer des neuen Bundes (The Expiatory Sacrifice of the New Covenant): Part III No. 31: Recitative: Jesus aber wandte sich um (But Jesus turned and said to them) (Bass)
Das Suhnopfer des neuen Bundes (The Expiatory Sacrifice of the New Covenant): Part III No. 32: Terzetto: Den wir jungst auf Tabors Hohen (The one whom we lately saw on Tabor's height)
Das Suhnopfer des neuen Bundes (The Expiatory Sacrifice of the New Covenant): Part III No. 33: Recitative: Pilatus, du hast auf's Kreuz geschrieben (Pilate, thou hast written on the cross) (Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass)
Das Suhnopfer des neuen Bundes (The Expiatory Sacrifice of the New Covenant): Part III No. 34: Was ich geschrieben habe, das habe ich geschrieben (What I have written, I have written) (Pilate)
Das Suhnopfer des neuen Bundes (The Expiatory Sacrifice of the New Covenant): Part III No. 35: Der du den Tempel Gottes zerbrichst (Thou who destroyest the Temple of God) (Chorus of the People)
Das Suhnopfer des neuen Bundes (The Expiatory Sacrifice of the New Covenant): Part III No. 36: Recitative and Duet: Jesus aber sprach: Vater vergib ihnen (But Jesus said: Father, forgive them) (Christ, Tenor, Bass)
Das Suhnopfer des neuen Bundes (The Expiatory Sacrifice of the New Covenant): Part III No. 37: Chorale: Seht die Mutter bang und klagend (See the mother, sad and mourning)
Das Suhnopfer des neuen Bundes (The Expiatory Sacrifice of the New Covenant): Part III No. 38: Jesus aber spricht zu seiner Mutter (But Jesus said to his mother) (Christ)
Das Suhnopfer des neuen Bundes (The Expiatory Sacrifice of the New Covenant): Part III No. 39: Finsternis bedeckt das Land (Darkness covers the land) (Chorus)
Das Suhnopfer des neuen Bundes (The Expiatory Sacrifice of the New Covenant): Part III No. 40: Aria and Chorus: Sein Auge das mich angeblickt (His eyes that regarded me) (Soprano, Chorus)
Das Suhnopfer des neuen Bundes (The Expiatory Sacrifice of the New Covenant): Part III No. 41: Recitative: Darnach, als Jesus wusste (Then, when Jesus knew) (Bass) - Chorale: Grosser Friedefurst (Great Prince of peace)
Das Suhnopfer des neuen Bundes (The Expiatory Sacrifice of the New Covenant): Part III No. 42: Recitative: Einen Schwamm mit Essig fullet (One of them filled a sponge with vinegar) (Alto, Bass)
Das Suhnopfer des neuen Bundes (The Expiatory Sacrifice of the New Covenant): Part III No. 43: Des Tempels Vorhang is zerrissen (The Temple's veil is rent) (Chorus)
Das Suhnopfer des neuen Bundes (The Expiatory Sacrifice of the New Covenant): Part III No. 44: Mein eigen Grab will ich ihm weihen (My own grave will I give him) (Joseph, Nicodemus)
Das Suhnopfer des neuen Bundes (The Expiatory Sacrifice of the New Covenant): Part III No. 45: Einst lagst du auch gehullt in weisse Linnen (Once too thou lay wrapped in white linen) (Daughters of Sion)
Das Suhnopfer des neuen Bundes (The Expiatory Sacrifice of the New Covenant): Part III No. 46: Final: Es wird gesaet verweslich (It was sown perishable, and shall rise imperishable) (Chorus)

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