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Herman D. Koppel: Moses

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All Music Guide - Uncle Dave Lewis
For some listeners, the ne plus ultra of Holocaust-related classical music is Schoenberg's "A Survivor from Warsaw." Such a limited view precludes an enormous amount of postwar music that addresses itself to Hebrew subjects, but nonetheless reflect the influence of the Holocaust to different degrees, including Milhaud's "Service sacre pour le samedi matin" and Bernstein's "Kaddish." During the war years, Danish composer Herman D. Koppel fled with his family to Sweden; while Schoenberg was playing tennis and convening his court of émigré artists and students in Hollywood, Koppel was making do as a refugee, attempting to keep his family together. Although initially ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Uncle Dave Lewis
For some listeners, the ne plus ultra of Holocaust-related classical music is Schoenberg's "A Survivor from Warsaw." Such a limited view precludes an enormous amount of postwar music that addresses itself to Hebrew subjects, but nonetheless reflect the influence of the Holocaust to different degrees, including Milhaud's "Service sacre pour le samedi matin" and Bernstein's "Kaddish." During the war years, Danish composer Herman D. Koppel fled with his family to Sweden; while Schoenberg was playing tennis and convening his court of émigré artists and students in Hollywood, Koppel was making do as a refugee, attempting to keep his family together. Although initially better known as a pianist, Koppel established his reputation as a composer in the postwar period; the oratorio "Moses" was completed in 1964 and stands as one of his finest works. "Moses" superficially resembles the sound of "Warsaw" in that it utilizes a neutral-sounding harmonic scheme somewhat similar to Schoenberg's, but it is not a twelve-tone work; rather it is modal and owes a lot more to the less rumbustious sections of Stravinsky's "Le Sacre du printemps." By 1964, Koppel had been preoccupied with the libretto of "Moses" some time, compiling it from the Torah and molding the entire traversal from the Creation through the death of Moses into a single, taut text, divided into two halves lasting just under an hour in performance. The soloists in this recording, which appears to be the first for the work, are strong, particularly soprano Elisabeth Meyer-Topsøe. Bass Christian Christiansen, who has the pivotal title role, is very good, though not quite as compelling as Meyer-Topsøe; the only part of this fast-moving oratorio that drags is a long stretch in the section "The Curse and Blessing of Moses," where Christiansen has practically all of the music. The remainder more than makes up for that -- the music surrounding the presentation of the tablets and the discovery of the Golden Calf is boldly rhythmic and exciting, and the concluding, chilling "Hallelujah" will raise the hairs on the back of your neck. The recording, made by the Danish Broadcasting Corporation, is a little distant, but very good, and for the most part conductor Owain Arwel Hughes manages to keep things moving forward. "Moses" is so little known outside Denmark that it is hard to find secondary critical confirmation that this might be a neglected masterwork of twentieth century choral music, but it certainly kicks the heck out of Stravinsky's "Abraham and Isaac," premiered the same year. DaCapo's "Moses" is an easy recommendation for connoisseurs of serious twentieth century music.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 2/4/1997
  • Label: Marco Polo
  • UPC: 730099974622
  • Catalog Number: 224046

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1–23 Moses, Op 76 - Herman D. Koppel & Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra (59:31)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Owain Arwel Hughes Primary Artist
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