- Das Buch Mit Sieben Siegeln (The Book of the Seven Seals), oratorio
Franz Schmidt: Das Buch mit sieben Siegelnby Kristjan Järvi
Franz Schmidt's "Das Buch mit sieben Siegeln" (The Book with Seven Seals) is a powerful setting of texts adapted from the Apocalypse of St. John for six vocalists, choir, organ, and orchestra, and was composed between 1935 and 1937, near the end of the composer's career. In its most potent passages, this oratorio vividly depicts the cataclysmic events described in the Bible's last book, but much of Schmidt's music evokes the Romantic past and draws inspiration from the great works of his time, such as Richard Wagner's operas and Richard Strauss' tone poems, as well as Johannes Brahms' "Ein deutsches Requiem" and possibly even Gustav Mahler's "Symphony No. 8." Fans of music on the grand scale will find Schmidt's epic score to be expansive in line, harmonically rich and varied, contrapuntally vigorous, and profoundly majestic in expression, very much a Bach-like summation of the age. Some critics have contended that, because of its most bellicose and dissonant parts, "Das Buch mit sieben Siegeln" anticipates the horrors of World War II, yet this is only an interpretation after the fact, and it is unlikely that Schmidt had any such premonitions, considering his political naïveté. In terms of musical interpretation, this performance by Kristjan Järvi, the Wiener Singverein, and the Tonkünstler-Orchester is striking in its effects, emotionally disturbing in its violent climaxes, and almost cosmic in its depth and spaciousness, thanks to the multichannel DSD recording and the hybrid SACD format. Forces are audibly spread out, and the voices, choir, and orchestra seem to have vast dimensions, so audiophiles will find this package to be a sonic extravaganza, and the committed performance makes this 2008 Chandos release required listening for Schmidt's admirers.
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Performance CreditsKristjan Järvi Primary Artist
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