Gabriel von Wayditch: The Caliph's Magician: Suh and Sah; Jesus Before Herod

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One thing you can say about Gabriel von Wayditch: he's no Havergal Brian. For one thing, Brian was the eccentric twentieth century English composer who wrote more symphonies than almost anybody else in near-complete obscurity while von Wayditch was the eccentric twentieth century Hungarian composer who wrote more operas than almost anybody else in near-complete obscurity. For another thing, von Wayditch's harmonic language was resolutely late Romantic, while as every student of almost-forgotten composers knows, Brian's harmonic language started late Romantic but evolved into free-wheeling modernism. As demonstrated by these recordings of his one-act operas The Caliph's Magician: Suh and Sah and Jesus Before Herod, von Wayditch knew the works of Wagner, Strauss, and Schreker intimately and knew how to write a searing theme, how to space an excruciating harmony, how to score an sumptuous orchestra, and how to take singers to the limit of their voices and talents. Whether von Wayditch's voluptuously decadent operas succeed or fail is up to the temperament of the listener, but surely these two sets of performers couldn't be asked to do more for his cause. Considering the extravagant virtuosity of the writing, András Korodi and the Budapest National Opera Orchestra and Chorus in The Caliph's Magician and Peter Erös and the San Diego Symphony and the San Diego Master Chorale in Jesus Before Herod are clearly as well prepared and deeply committed as any performers are ever likely to be. And considering the staggering demands of the music, these two recordings are demonstratively labors of love with an honesty that, under the circumstances, can only be admired.

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