Magazine article Gramophone

Mayr: Jacob a Labano Fugiens

Magazine article Gramophone

Mayr: Jacob a Labano Fugiens

Article excerpt

Mayr

Jacob a Labano fugiens

Siri Karoline Thornhill, Andrea Lauren Brown, Gunhild Lang-Alsvik, Katharina Ruckgaber sops Julie Comparini me/Simon Mayr Chorus and Ensemble / Franz Hauk

Naxos [B] 8 573237 (79' * DDD)

Simon Mayr (1763-1845) hada dependability that kept him immune to the inspirational ups and downs and empty note-spinning of some of his contemporaries. Though premiered in Venice in the year of Mozart's death, Jacob's Flight from Laban might be likened, harmonically and dramatically, to pre-Idomeneo Mozart. Flights of occasional brilliance are heard within a generalised ability to meet the dramatic challenges of the material at hand.

Though Mayr operas with compelling source material hold their own on the modern stage, this oratorio seems more distant, presuming that listeners come to the piece with an interest in the somewhat musty Old Testament episode in which Jacob breaks with his uncle Laban, and the inner conflicts of Jacob's wife Rachel. Anja Morgenstern's excellent notes tells us of provocative departures from the biblical plotlines that one probably wouldn't notice in the piece's steady-as-she-goes narrative. All roles are sung by females, though there's little gender differentiation in the character of the vocal lines. …

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