The Book of the Seven Seals
- Is Discontinued By Manufacturer : いいえ
- 製品サイズ : 12.7 x 14.61 x 2.54 cm; 128.99 g
- メーカー : Angel Records
- EAN : 0724355666024
- レーベル : Angel Records
- ASIN : B00000C2JB
- ディスク枚数 : 2
- Amazon 売れ筋ランキング: - 851,794位ミュージック (の売れ筋ランキングを見るミュージック)
Franz Schmidt's magnum opus oratorio adapting the last book of the New Testament, the Revelations of St. John (and apocalyptic revelations they were), has been an imposing mystery to American music lovers. Rarely is it encountered in concert, and recordings have featured intriguing collections of musicians (tenor Fritz Wunderlich in one, conductor Dmitri Mitropoulos in another), though often in less-than-great sound and without English texts. This is the first recording that could unlock the seals for non-Germanic listeners: it has all the surface polish this music craves, while conductor Franz Welser-Most loves the music and knows it well. As dictated by the composer, St. John is sung by a vigorous heldentenor, Stig Andersen. Rene Pape is the voice of the Lord--and sounds like it. But with so much help from performers, the piece is likely to remain a cult item. Its dense, wordy text floats like corks on the chromatic salt sea of Schmidt's orchestration, guided by a committed, unsentimental sense of dramaturgy but not much sense of melody. --David Patrick Stearns
German composer Franz Schmidt is perhaps best known for his four Symphonies, big Romantic compositions that were a little old-fashioned for their time, but are well worth knowing. He writes in a wholly approachable manner, and his use of chromaticisms only enhance the moods, for he always bursts out of any murky chaos he creates. Here, Schmidt increases the modernism as the work chugs along, creating pent-up drama, but anything confounding always lands satisfyingly. ‘Das Buch’ is a sort-of Mahler symphony meets a Mendelssohn oratorio, and it is really quite interesting.
The main attraction of The Book With Seven Seals are the titular sequences where the seals of the book are opened, calling forth the Horsemen individually, rending the Earth, and the mighty battle between the armies of Heaven and the evil Serpent. Yet, the opening has some wonderfully pastoral moments that return often, and the whole work is essentially a recounting of St. John of his vision, which opens and closes thusly; the man and his message. Really well structured.
Schmidt calls for a heldentenor in the lead, an aspect missing in some other recordings of this work, as well as five more soloists, a large chorus, and orchestra. Suffice to say the proportions are epic and Schmidt delivers with some dramatic portraits and characterful music making. And yet, there are melodies to enjoy, rhythmic ideas to carry the visuals, and the mighty presence of a pipe organ which gets a spotlight amidst the singing.
Franz Welser-Möst’s recording from the late 90’s is a strong one. The Bavarian forces are thrilling; the choral parts are well heard, the orchestra is full and lustrous, and the impact of the sound is solid. Welser-Möst really has the full measure of this music and he has these groups performing incisively, for the rhythmic acuity and climaxes are striking, the moments of repose are quite beautiful, and the tempos chug along with purpose and intent. Really, quite superb all around.
The soloists are all quite fine as well. Stig Andersen’s wide-ranging, Wagnerian heldentenor has strength in the role of St. John, although his tone is a bit wild. The others, including René Pape as the Voice of God, are all confident and they sing together quite well. The harrowing organ solo seems well done too and the sonics certainly do good work with all of these forces fighting for space. The live recording yields no extraneous noises that I could pick up.
There are a handful of recordings of Schmidt’s The Book With Seven Seals, but I think this EMI recording still sounds excellent, and the performances are fantastic. Harnoncourt with the VPO on Teldec , also live, comes in 10-minutes slower than this one, so Welser-Möst is certainly snappier, and Horst Stein on Profil also has the Vienna Philharmonic on hand, but I am not as enraptured with that recording.
Many lash out at Franz Welser-Möst for being a bit dry or merely going through the motions, but I don’t sense that at all here, and the performers are out for dramatic glory. If you are unfamiliar with this work, and you like large dramatic oratorios, find this work regardless. This original EMI release comes with a hefty amount of liner notes and song texts, but it has since been reissued on EMI Gemini in a slimline version with less liner notes and no texts. Regardless of which, this recording easily comes Highly Recommended!