Wit Excels In Dvorák’s Choral Works

Review by: David Hurwitz

DvorakMass

Artistic Quality: 9

Sound Quality: 8

Dvorák’s lovely and lyrical Mass in D has never been very popular. It’s a gentle work, simple in style, written to be used as part of an actual service. One Gramophone reviewer contemptuously called it “vanilla-flavored.” I’ve never understood why, if works such as Fauré’s Requiem can be admired for their intimacy, this piece can’t be also. It’s beautiful, and in Dvorák’s arrangement for full orchestra with organ, it has plenty of contrast and sustains its modest length (about forty minutes) perfectly.

This performance, featuring the enthusiastic choral participation of the Orfeón Pamplonés, tells us that there’s something of value going on in Pamplona aside from its annual exercise in animal cruelty and human idiocy. Antoni Wit, always a first class choral conductor, leads an ideal performance, perfectly paced and completely at one with the music’s directness and sincerity. Dvorák was a believer and had no need to score points or strain after effects. Wit takes him at his word.

The Te Deum is another matter altogether: a festive choral extravaganza in four movements organized rather like a brief symphony. It’s one of three great nineteenth-century settings of the text, the others being by Bruckner and Verdi, and it sounds like no other. Wit and his forces capture the music’s celebratory splendor, finding a good bit of captivating orchestral detail along the way. The soloists are all decent or better, the Navarra orchestra on its toes, and the sonics reverberant but not too cloudy. A very enjoyable disc.



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Recording Details:

Reference Recording: None


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