Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Music Webmaster Len Mullenger:


Le Roi David (1923)
Natania Davrath (sop)
Marvin Sorenson (ten)
Jean Preston (sop)
Martial Singher (narr)
Madeleine Milhaud (Witch of Endor)
University of Utah Chorus
Utah SO/Maurice Abravanel
Amazon US

Abravanel was a singular industry much as Neeme Järvi was, principally with the RSNO, and even as Ilya Stupel with the Artur Rubinstein PO on Danacord. Abravanel was extraordinarily productive as a recording music director. He and Vanguard set down stacks of sets including symphonic cycles from Tchaikovsky, Mahler, Sibelius and so much else. His Vaughan Williams is a doughty contestant in the lists and his feeling for the Gallic muse in all its varied clothing was always poignant.

Honegger's King David is given a scalding performance. The music has an oriental twist and the fresh effect is not diluted unduly by a constant low hiss proclaiming the 1960s analogue vintage. The work laid the foundation for that later masterpiece Martinu's Epic of Gilgamesh from the late 1950s. It is sung and spoken (yes there is a narrator) in French. Honegger has almost left behind his machine age tendencies though they do peek out of the Philistine March for me suggesting familiarity with the music of Igor Markevich. The work also proclaims the influence of Oedipus Rex - note the raw abrasion of the trumpets in the March of the Hebrews. This is contrasted with the touching In the Lord I put my Faith only detracted from by the off-key accent which mars tenor line. That accent seems all the poorer because of the authenticity of Martial Singher's oration. Singher imparts a sleepy ecstasy in The Death of David. There is a jazzy quality in God the Lord. Madeleine Milhaud is suitably creepy - stagily rolling every whisper and sibilant. Predictably Davrath is superb in The Song of Ephraim. Her simple folk style suits the music with wonderful aptness. Listen to her ravishing descanting in the final star-struck Death of David.

This is a most enjoyable disc and a fine platform from which to discover a neglected piece.

Rob Barnett

Comparative reviews

Conducted by Michel Piquemal NAXOS 8.553649 [66:04]

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