A recently discovered mid-19th-century biblical oratorio, David, by the largely
forgotten Carl Gottlieb Reissiger, a contemporary of Weber and Mendelssohn, has
been rescued from oblivion in a first performance outside of Germany, in
Jerusalem, by the David Choir from Belzig, the composer’s hometown, conducted by
Coming from an almost unknown German Romantic composer,
this was a surprisingly impressive work. During its two-and-a-half hour
performance there was no dull moment. This effect was achieved by the extreme
diversity of abundant appealing melodies, gripping rhythms, unpredictable
harmonies and dramatic tension.
This resulted, no doubt, from Reissiger’s
experience as a composer of eight operas, and this oratorio indeed contained
discernible operatic touches. Though Romantic in style, the music steered clear
of this period’s conventions, and is rich in individual inventiveness. Its
Victory Chorus, for instance, is contagiously exuberant, the Coronation March is
rhythmically exciting, and David’s emotional Lament of Saul and Jonathan sounds
intensely moving rather than formally liturgical.
The work’s chief hero
is the choir. It conveys the narrative’s main events forcefully as well as
subtly. The David Choir, despite consisting of amateurs, or perhaps because of
that, sounded well balanced, with meticulously pure intonation and, above all,
Among the soloists, Stefan Puppe was
His warm, sonorous, dark-timbred bass-baritone
sounded friendly, and his intelligent rendition of the text emphasized its
meaning clearly and communicatively.
The orchstral part was performed by
the Israel Camerata.
This first encounter with Reissiger has now aroused
curiosity for more examples of his oeuvre.
Carl Gottlieb Reissiger
Church of the Redeemer,