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Spohr’s 2nd oratorio concerns both: Apocalypse & Last Judgement

ReviewThis was Spohr's second oratorio and was written in Kassel between 1825 and 1826. The libretto, in two parts, was by Johann Friedrich Rochlitz (1769-1842) and concerns both the Apocalypse and the Last Judgement. The overture is a powerful utterance, finely put together, and orchestrated adeptly. The choral entries are often arresting, and the accompanied recitatives show awareness of oratorio antecedents but are sufficiently flexible to convince on their own terms. At its best the work impresses through a felicitous sense of word-setting and layering; the choral responses are indeed sensitively shaped. The fourth movement, with a tenor solo and chorus, calls for a repeated 'Heilig' and the chorus's soft, reverential repetition vests the music with great reflectiveness and elegiac quality. Then too Spohr doesn't stint the opportunities for some good old-fashioned fugal development. Its employment halts the narrative somewhat but is certainly incisive; that in the seventh section is very definitely reminiscent of Handel. Spohr shows in the Sinfonia introduction to the second part just how well he wrote for orchestral forces and in the Babylonian chorus (No.15) demonstrates a sure instinct for the dramatic crest of a movement. In the concluding fugal Hallelujah section he reprises the kind of Handelian statements he'd earlier established in the first part of the oratorio. There are some Mozartian touches here and there, more stentorian Beethovenian ones too, in addition to the sometimes pervasive Handelian aspect...
Jonathan Woolf, Musicweb International

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