OSKAR GOTTLIED BLARR (b.1934): Jesus-Passion for Choir, Children’s Choir, Vocal Soloists and Large Orchestra.
Catalogue Number: 11U058
Reference: 3SACD KiG 010
Format: SACD hybrid
Description: This is an unusual, and revealing, large-scale retelling of the story of Christ's Passion by a Jewish composer with a long and distinguished career in church music. Briefly summarized, the work may be seen as offering a different perspective from the Gospel accounts of the Passion by depicting the events as they would have appeared to the Jewish inhabitants of Jerusalem at the time. This does not in any way contradict the Biblical account, but enlarges upon it and places it in an historical context, deliberately avoiding the conflicts between Christianity and Judaism that have accreted in the following centuries that have in some unfortunate cases led to anti-Semitism from people who should know better. Blarr is a scholar as well as a prolific composer, and the almost bewildering array of musical styles deliver a sense of timeless authenticity to the musical narrative, while being effortlessly, if paradoxically, melded into a coherent idiom. The Blarr scholar interviewed on the bonus third disc attributes the success of the work to ' ... one of the peculiarities of Blarr’s style: the fact that it is immediately comprehensible, “even for those who know nothing at all of the complex processes involved."' This is absolutely the case; drawing on Jewish folk styles and laments, the triumphant celebrations of the entry into Jerusalem are depicted in jaunty folk and traditional music, the scene in Gethsemane in chant-like laments, the Crucifixion in a composite modern oratorio style - but throughout the narrative drama is heightened by the ease with which the music can sidestep into Pendereckian sonorism (one of Blarr's teachers, not coincidentally) or into lush tableaux of Baroque-style choral writing or sumptuous neo-romantic magnificence - or indeed overlay the one with the other (are those Mahlerian offstage trumpets, or a distant Shofar? Both!). Blarr also studied with B.A. Zimmermann, with whom certain aspects of a far-ranging inclusive æsthetic may readily be observed. A stimulating work in concept, powerful in execution. The music takes up just under 97 minutes; the remainder is interviews with and about the composer (in German). 3 CDs. Gloria Rehm (soprano), Silvia Hauer (mezzo), Sung Min Song (tenor), Johannes Hill (baritone), Markus Volpert (bass-baritone), Wiesbaden Bach Choir, Children of the Wiesbaden Evangelical Singakademie, Wiesbaden Bach Orchestra; Jörg Endebrock.