A mildly interesting curiosity in fine performances
G.D. | Norway | 05/26/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Carl Armand Mangold (1813-1889) was apparently considered an important composer of operas and oratorios in his day, but is currently not even a name to most music enthusiasts. The oratorio Abraham rushes through Abraham's life in 100 minutes, and Mangold was apparently intent on keeping more or less everything in there, which means that he's got little time for reflection and long developments. And frankly, there is little memorable about the melodies and semi-arias, which are flat and short-breathed. On the other hand, Mangold's skill at cogently putting the whole thing together in terms of motivic development is impressive, even if the motivic material is thin, and the work has some interesting instrumental touches and imaginative orchestration - as well as very impressive choral writing (the fugue writing for double chorus for the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is perhaps a highlight).
That might not be enough to warrant a general recommendation, and the work as a whole is probably for the most part of specialist interest only. The performances are fairly good, however. Gilles Cachemaille makes impressive use of the material he's got in the title role, but the rest of the cast is generally more than adeptly sung as well. The Darmstadt Chorus and Darmstadt Philharmonic Orchestra acquit themselves well, and Seeliger sounds clearly enthusiastic about the work. Documentation is fortunately good, and the sound quality at least not a problem. All in all, then, this is a worthwhile but hardly great work, but given the advocacy it receives here the curious can proceed with some confidence."