ANTAL DORÁTI (1906-1988): Der Kunder.
Catalogue Number: 05X055
Description: Doráti’s only opera was based on a mystery play, Elijah, by the Austrian philosopher Marin Buber (1878-1965). Universally known and respected by collectors for his voluminous recorded repertory (600 recordings!), Doráti was also a composer of substance with two symphonies, a piano concerto and a sizeable body of other works, including this, his only opera, to his credit. Much influenced by his uncle, Dohnányi, and a student (and later, champion) of Kodály and of Bartök, he was no avant-gardiste, and this work, from 1958, is thoroughly tonal and has nothing to do with any of the modernist trends of the second half of the 20th century. Aside from Kodály and Dohnányi, and the pentatonic and quartal harmony characteristic of Eastern European folk music, passing influences as diverse as Wagner, Strauss, Busoni, and Sibelius may be detected; with an encyclopædic knowledge of the repertoire from the perspective of the podium, it is unsurprising that Doráti's handling of orchestral and vocal forces is impeccable and drawn from the finest models. The opera is based on Martin Buber's "mystery play" Elijah, to Doráti's libretto, after the Old Testament story of the prophet. Doráti's work is truly operatic, especially the highly dramatic and turbulent second act, centred on the crimes of King Ahab and Jezebel, and Elijah's vanquishing of the servants of the pagan god Baal in the name of the true God Jehovah. However, the lack of a chorus and an emphasis on propelling the narrative through a series of solo declamations rather than ensemble pieces links it to the Biblical oratorio tradition, while some tremendously powerful purely orchestral "symphonic intermezzi" depict several of the most dramatic episodes of action, which are not enacted on stage. As befits an interpretation of Buber's philosophical drama, this is a serious, substantial, and compelling work which takes its time to make its central points while retaining a sense of inexorable narrative flow and theatrical approachability. 3 CDs. German-English libretto. Tomasz Konieczny (bass-baritone), Michael Schade (tenor), Rachel Frenkl (mezzo), Chorus of the Teatr Wielki, Poznań, Beethoven Academy Orchestra Cracow; Martin Fischer-Dieskau.