Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

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Len Mullenger:

ZOLTAN KODALY Missa Brevis, Jesus and the Traders, Evening, Matra pictures Helen Charlotte Pedersen (sop), Maria Streijffert (alto), Lars Pedersen (ten), Michael W, Hansen (bass), Torsten Nielsen (org)Danish National Radio Choir conducted by Stefan Parkman CHANDOS CHAN 9754 [53.39]




In the 60 CDs that I have reviewed so far for this website this is, without doubt, the finest. Listening to this almost faultless music was a rare experience full of intellectual and emotional significance and a telling spirituality that is second to none. When music can elevate one's spirit to both heights of aestheticism and soul satisfaction, it must be great music. The Missa Brevis is.

And the singing is of impeccable quality. Both the organ and its executant are superlative. And the recording and the engineers must take immense credit. The music is never distant or reverberant.

But it is the equality of Kodály's music that is staggering. Wonderful rich harmonies and a poignancy that has the power to move to therpatic tears. It really is a profound and rewarding experience. There are passages of unequalled beauty and power. Music like this must have the ability to encourage the pagan to think again.

Kodály is a great composer and not merely on this evidence alone. His incredible Sonata for solo cello, Op 8, of 1915 is a masterpiece too, as are his other outstanding works the Palmus Hungaricus of 1923 and the Badavár Te Deum of 1936. His orchestration is excellent as in for example, the rich pastoral shades of Summer Evening and the infectious exhuberance of the Dances of Galánta.

He was a very likeable man and a very brave one particularly during the dark days of the Second World War.

Jesus and the Traders is an unaccompanied choral piece set in Kodály's native Hungarian. It has rich textures, choice harmonies and is another 'must' for students of choral music and composers who want to excel in this genre.

Evening has a compelling evocative sound, an incredible beauty and a controlled nostalgia.

The pale beam of evening's star
Is smiling down on the world
Soon, up, up will come the full moon
A glittering, glittering canopy of heaven
Earth's noise has died away.

And so to the Mátra district of Hungary for five choral vignettes which are another example of Kodály's mastery of choral composition. I have a few minor niggles but compared with the overwhelming superlative performances I can only marvel at the sensational experience that this CD has given me. Perhaps it is personal and this CD came to my desk at the right time, but it does not alter the facts of the greatness of the music and genuinely outstanding performances.


David Wright

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Recording (recurring)


David Wright



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