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Fuoco di gioia! – Famous Opera Choruses
Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Münchner Rundfunkorchester/Ivan Repušić
rec. 2019 Studio 1, Bayerischer Rundfunk, Munich
No sung texts
BR KLASSIK 900329 [79:55]

This collection comprises of famous choruses and instrumental numbers from predominantly nineteenth-century Italian, German and Russian operas.

Founded in 1946, the world-famous Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks is the earliest of the trio of musical ensembles of the Bayerischer Rundfunk (Bavarian Radio) created after World War Two. In 1949, the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks was established, then in 1952 the Münchner Rundfunkorchester. In conjunction with the Bavarian Radio orchestra, chief conductors of the chorus have included Eugen Jochum, Rafael Kubelík, Sir Colin Davis, Lorin Maazel and Maris Jansons, and in 2016 Howard Arman was appointed its artistic director.

The uniformly high quality of the singing of the Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks under chorus master Yuval Weinberg is striking from start to finish, steadfastly communicating captivating drama. Entitled ‘Famous Opera Choruses’, the collection predictably contains many ‘old favourites’ such as Puccini’s Humming Chorus, Verdi’s Chorus of the Hebrews slaves, Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances and Wagner’s Bridal Chorus but is none the worse for that, especially in such outstanding and stylish performances as these.

Of the Verdi works, standing out is the rousing performance of Fuoco di gioia! (Fire of joy!) from Otello as the townspeople celebrate the safe arrival to port of the victorious Otello and his men. Notable, too, is the intensity of feeling given to the inspiring Va, pensiero, sull’ali dorate, better known as the Chorus of the Hebrews Slaves from Nabucco. The Bell Chorus from Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci, announcing that the vespers service is about to begin, is gloriously sung. From Puccini’s Turandot, is the sumptuous and hauntingly atmospheric Moon Chorus, sung by the people of Peking. Of the Russian works, Borodin’s much-loved Polovtsian Dances from Prince Igor is given an especially vibrant performance and of the German works, the hearty singing of the Norwegian Sailors’ Chorus from Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman is especially noteworthy.

The Münchner Rundfunkorchester plays characterfully and senses the essential currents flowing through these works. Among the orchestral works, the Overture from Glinka’s Ruslan and Ludmilla and the Act Three Prelude from Wagner’s Lohengrin are commendable. Recorded in the Bayerischer Rundfunk studios, the sound quality has satisfying clarity and balance. The essay Fuoco di gioia! - Famous Opera Choruses provides basic information on the works although the spelling of ‘Otello’ as ‘Othello’ is an error. A disappointment, too, is the lack of sung texts.

Beautifully performed and recorded, this well-filled album of famous choruses is a treat for opera lovers.

Michael Cookson

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)
01. ‘Fuoco di gioia’, ‘Fire of Rejoicing ‘from Otello
02. ‘Ballabili’, from Otello
Allegro vivace – Canzone araba – Invocazione di Allah –
Canzone greca – Danza – La Muranese – Canto guerriero
03. ‘Patria oppressa!’ Scottish Refugees’ Chorus from Macbeth
04. ‘Va, pensiero, sull’ali dorate’, Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves from Nabucco
Ruggero LEONCAVALLO (1857-1919)
05. ‘Andiam! Andiam! Don, din, don, suona vespero’, Bell Chorus, from Pagliacci
Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924)
06. ‘Perché tarda la luna?’ Invocation to the Moon from Turandot
07. ‘Coro a bocca chiusa’, Humming Chorus, from Madama Butterfly
Pietro MASCAGNI (1863-1945)
08. ‘Ah! Gli aranci olezzano’, Prelude and Countrymen’s Chorus from Cavalleria rusticana
Mikhail GLINKA (1804-1857)
09. Overture from Ruslan and Ludmilla
Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
10. ‘Dyevitsi, krasavtsi, Dushenki, podruzhenki!’, Maidens’ Chorus from Eugene Onegin
Alexander BORODIN (1833-1887)
11. ‘Polovtsian Dances’ from Prince Igor
Richard WAGNER (1813-1883)
12. Vorspiel (Prelude) to act 3 ‘Treulich geführt ziehet dahin’, Bridal Chorus from Lohengrin
13. ‘Steuermann, lass die Wacht’, Norwegian Sailors’ Chorus from Der fliegende Holländer
14. ‘Beglückt darf nun dich, o Heimat, ich schau’n’ – ‘Heil! Heil! Der Gnade Wunder, Heil!’, Pilgrims’ Chorus and Finale from Tannhäuser

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