Schubert sonatas

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Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896)
Latin Motets

Pange lingua [3:53]
Afferentur regi virgins [1:21]
Vexilla regis [5:17]
Christus factus est [4:38]
Locus iste [2:30]
Os justi meditabitur [4:51]
Inveni David [1:29]
Libera me, Domine [4:11]
Ave Maria [3:18]
Tota pulchra es [4:18]
Virga Jesse [4:07]
Ecce sacerdos [5:07]
Oly Pfaff, (tenor)
Manfred Hug, (organ)
Wolfgang Czelusta, Klaus Bäuerle, Peter Redwig, Fritz Resch, (trombones)
Philharmonia Vocalensemble Stuttgart/Hans Zanotelli
rec. 6-7 April 1979, Tonstudio Mauermann.
Originally issued on Calig Records.
PROFIL PH07002 [45:56]

Günter Hänssler’s aggressive series of reissues on his Profil label have been for the most part excellent and welcome re-acquaintances with some old lost friends. Alas, there are some recordings which deserve deletion, and this one is not worthy of resurrection.

Bruckner’s Latin motets are some of the nineteenth century’s most lush and harmonically delicious music for choirs.  They are also fraught with treachery, their relatively homophonic style masking some fiendish intonation traps. Alas, this choir falls into every last one of them with a vengeance. 

Things get off to a pretty good start with the Pange lingua and the only real problem is a lack of homogeny in the tone of the choir, and a pretty mundane interpretation. As we progress however, the plain awful intonation becomes more and more frequent, especially at cadence points. By the time we get to the Christus factus est, and Os justi, the out of tune chords are simply unbearable. Not to mention that when Bruckner asks for a fortissimo, this choir tries to out-clang the Berlin Philharmonic. Consequently, the sound is over-blown and the tone becomes harsh and strident.

Hans Zanotelli never offers a truly well-shaped phrase, and he asks for some bizarre articulations from his choir that are most likely made in the name of clarity, but instead come across as affected and jarring.

There is one redeeming performance, however. The Inveni David for men’s voices and four trombones is thrillingly sung and the tone and blend of the men of the choir is outstanding. But at less than two minutes, it is not worth the outlay for just one work.

There was  surely some material that could have been found to fill out the disc as well. At just under forty-six minutes, this is obviously a straight re-issue of an LP. With outstanding recordings of this music on the market by Philippe Herreweghe, Frieder Bernius and Matthew Best, this disc has no place in the catalog.

Kevin Sutton 



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