Classical Editor: Rob
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
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.
Conducted by Michel Piquemal NAXOS 8.553649