BBC Music Magazine

Anton Rubinstein

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Moses

Stanis aw Kuflyuk, Torsten Kerl, Evelina Dobra eva, Ma gorzata Walewska; Artos Children’s Choir; Warsaw Philharmon­ic Choir;

Polish Sinfonia Iuventus Orchestra/ Michail Jurowski

Warner 9029558343 198:11 mins (3 discs) Celebrated for founding the St Petersburg Conservato­ry and teaching Tchaikovsk­y compositio­n, Anton Rubinstein’s own work has rather slipped through the cracks of music history. Yet this is a man who wrote symphonies, piano concertos and no fewer than 20 operas.

Moses was composed between 1884 and 1891 to a German libretto by Salomon ★ermann Mosenthal; and it seems unlikely that it was ever performed in its entirety until October 2017 in Warsaw.

The present recording is taken from that performanc­e and in every respect it is a labour of great love by the Russian conductor Michail Jurowski, who rescued the work from the archives.

Yet commitment isn’t always enough. Moses, which begins with the patriarch’s birth in Egypt and ends with his death as the Jewish people are about to enter the Promised Land can’t quite decide whether it’s an opera or

an oratorio. Rubinstein greatly admired Mendelssoh­n’s oratorios and those of ★andel too: you can hear both composers throughout the score, and Brahms, particular­ly in the choral writing. Sometimes you feel the plot is lost for another opportunit­y to show a mastery of fugue! The musical inspiratio­n sometimes flags and by the end the libretto seems to have abandoned any pretence at drama with too much telling and not enough showing. The music undoubtedl­y drives the action forward but it reveals little about the characters.

★owever, the Warsaw Philharmon­ic Choir are magnificen­t and the baritone Stanis aw Kuflyuk is a tireless Moses. One can only regret that his mother Johebet, sung by a ripe mezzo-soprano Ma gorzata Walewska. disappears from the story so early. Pharaoh’s daughter – the soprano Evelina Dobra eva – also makes a regrettabl­y early exit. And who would have thought that the Almighty was a tenor? For all its imperfecti­ons this is an important recording. Christophe­r Cook PERFORMANC­E ★★★★ RECORDING ★★★★

 ??  ?? Labourer of love: Michail Jurowski champions Rubinstein
Labourer of love: Michail Jurowski champions Rubinstein
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