Colin Davis has long been an advocate for the music of Michael Tippett, and since A Child of Our Time is one of the composer's best-known and most frequently performed works, it's good to have this 2003 recording of Davis conducting the work. The oratorio (written between 1939 and 1941) broadly deals with the suffering caused by humans persecuting others, but its specific catalyst was the Nazis' devastating Kristallnacht attacks on Jews in 1938. Because of the work's roots, this performance by the Chorus of the Dresden State Opera and Dresden Staatskapelle, with an international cast of soloists -- German, French, American, and Dutch -- takes on a special poignancy. The pronunciation of the chorus and soloists may not always be fully intelligible, but the performance is infused with such passion and emotional intensity that it's easy to overlook their less than perfect vowel sounds. Tenor Jerry Hadley sings soulfully, even though he doesn't have the freshness of his vocal prime. Soprano Ute Selbig sings with stunningly pure, warm, and brilliant tone; her solos are among the high points of the CD, particularly "How can I cherish my man in such days." Contralto Nora Gubisch and bass Robert Holl are fully capable, but their vibrato tends to be a little wide. Davis leads a charged, deeply felt performance that powerfully testifies to his empathy with Tippett's music.
Tippett: A Child of our Time Review
by Stephen Eddins
|A Child of Our Time, oratorio|