HEINRICH KAMINSKI: Choral Music –Orpheus Choir of Munich/ Gerd Guglhör, conductor – Oehms Classics

by | May 3, 2007 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

HEINRICH KAMINSKI: Choral Music – Orpheus Choir of Munich/ Gerd Guglhör, conductor – Oehms Classics Multichannel SACD OC 608, [Distr. by Forte] 79:22 ****:

Bavarian composer Heinrich Kaminski (1886-1946) is not a name we encounter frequently. And he did not start off his life wanting to be a composer, but was encouraged by others who recognized his gifts. He studied at the Stern Conservatory in Germany, and later became a choirmaster and teacher of composition. After that he received a professorship at the Prussian Academy of Arts where his master classes attracted the likes of one Carl Orff. In 1933 he was forced to flee Germany based on his categorization of both “half-Jew” and “quarter-Jew”, and suffered a ban on his compositions. Eventually he settled in several different countries, but the loss of three of his children no doubt contributed to his early death in 1946.

Though his music is referred—even by himself—as “avantgarde”, one must take this with a grain of salt, and in relationship to the time he composed it. This is not atonal music by even the slightest stretch of the imagination, and if I could conjure up one word to describe it, it would be “ecstatic”. A sense of the unknown and of the inherent goodness of the unknown resounds in these pieces, whether in his sacred chorales, psalm settings, or even the surprisingly stirring and masterly Triptychon for mezzo-soprano and organ, which uses the words of Zarathustra to launch the composer’s concept of the essential unity of mankind’s religions. All of this music is rather slow paced, requires patience to let it unfold, and is quite rapturous to the ear. I found that I was captivated by it, and even though the disc is almost 80 minutes in length, found no trouble in keeping my interest peaked and emotions high. This is passionate, beautiful music of great substance and well worth a hearing by anyone who loves choral music—or rapture in general.

The acoustic is wonderful, the surround sound flooding the room with a full and lustrous vocal ecstasy. I did not know the Orpheus Choir of Munich, but they acquit themselves wonderfully, and seem fully attuned to the idiom of the composer. This recording proved a real surprise, and I heartily recommend it to you.

— Steven Ritter

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