Deutscher Kammerchor, Michael Alber - Psalmus

Published Thursday 7th April 2016
Deutscher Kammerchor, Michael Alber - Psalmus
Deutscher Kammerchor, Michael Alber - Psalmus

STYLE: Choral
RATING 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8
LABEL: Christophorus CHR77396

Reviewed by Steven Whitehead

The easy part of this review is to applaud Michael Alber and the Deutscher Kammerchor for some excellent choral singing across a challenging range of genres, from Schubert to Schonberg. And there lies the rub: listeners who enjoy the classical romanticism of Schubert may find Schonberg difficult and those who prefer Schonberg will probably think Schubert dull. This recording commemorates the 60th year of diplomatic relations between Germany and the State of Israel, with the German chamber choir presenting Psalm settings of the 19th and 20th centuries from Christian and Jewish traditions. Psalms by Josef Rheinberger from Catholic Munich are contrasted with Hebrew and German settings by Louis Lewandowski and Alfred Rose. Between them stand Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, who was born a Jew but was baptised in the Protestant faith, and the Catholic Franz Schubert, who set a Psalm in the Hebrew language for the Jewish synagogue in Vienna. Schonberg's late confrontation with his Jewish faith and the founding of the State of Israel led to his setting of the 130th Psalm. Also interesting is the "Water Psalm" by Gilead Mishory, a Jewish composer living in Germany, composed in response to a commission from the choir. The works on this CD were not composed out of the situation of Christians and Jews merely existing side by side, but reveal strong mutual cultural influences. As I say, the singing is flawless but the material is very wide ranging. Personally I always enjoy Rheinberger and the two settings by Lewandowski are charming. However Mishory's contribution is, at 22 minutes, too long. This still leaves 50 minutes of music that I will enjoy playing again so, with that reservation, I am happy to recommend it.

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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