On the eve of its 50th anniversary in 2021, Leonard Bernstein’s anti-religious Masssounds more contemporary and vital than ever. And no less challenging in its musical mélange of jazz, the blues, Broadway, rock and roll and much else besides, with traditional Latin text rubbing shoulders with vernacular-laced lyrics by the composer and Stephen Schwartz of Godspellfame.
Marking the centenary of the composer’s birth, Dennis Russell Davies’ live 2018 recording engages with its esoteric musical signature with aplomb. Fully attuned to Bernstein’s eclecticism and playing at full throttle, the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra deliver characterful, committed playing. Squaring the circle of the sung text proves a trickier proposition.
Genre-crossing Czech singer Vojtêch Dyk brings an Andrew Lloyd-Webber/stadium rock quality to the Celebrant that will please modern ears but his liberties with Bernstein’s music may cause some problems to more conventional sensibilities. Choral contributions from the Wiener Singakademie, Vienna State Opera Chorus and Company of Music match the vibrancy of their orchestral colleagues but fall frustratingly short of holding and blending everything together.
Capriccio’s engineers make what they can of...