Simone Young

Schmidt: Das Buch mit sieben Siegeln

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Widely regarded as Franz Schmidt's masterpiece, Das Buch mit sieben Siegeln (The Book with Seven Seals) is a large-scale oratorio based on the Apocalypse of St. John, set for five vocal soloists, choir, organ, and full orchestra. This live 2015 performance by Simone Young and the Hamburg Philharmonic is an impressive presentation of the work, and the powerful performance marked the end of Young's decade-long tenure with the orchestra. She chose this work for her farewell concert because she regards it as the last word in German Romanticism, a repertoire for which she has demonstrated a special affinity in her many concerts and her discography on Oehms Classics. Listeners unfamiliar with Schmidt's late-Romantic style may find it an acquired taste, considering the strong influence of Richard Wagner and the long stretches of declamatory singing that lend the oratorio an operatic quality. Yet there are many passages of great beauty, rich harmonies, and ecstatic lyricism that compensate for the work's slow pacing and expository nature. This package is aimed primarily at a German audience, since the libretto is provided in German only, and the digressions from the Biblical text may not be apparent to non-German readers. Even so, Schmidt's music deserves wider exposure, and this summation of his art is well served by Young's lucid interpretation.

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