Notes & Reviews:
A contemporary of Benjamin Britten, Sir Michael Tippett wrote his potent oratorio 'A Child of Our Time' (1939-41) as a compelling response to Nazi oppression, taking the title from a 1938 novel by Odon von Horvath, "Ein Kind unserer Zeit." Set to Tippett's own text steeped in his pacifist beliefs, the score draws on multiple inspirations and juxtaposes some of the twentieth century's boldest orchestral and choral writing with spirituals and jazz. As he has with Berlioz and Sibelius, Sir Colin Davis has worked tirelessly to champion the music of Michael Tippett. Recorded live in 2007, this "shattering performance" (The Times) was hailed as "phenomenally powerful... A great work, greatly performed" (The Guardian).
Gramophone Classical Music Guide
Four years after his Dresden version of A Childof Our Time, recorded live in the Semperoper (Profil, 3/08), Sir Colin Davis returned to the work in the very different environment of London's Barbican Hall. On this occasion the Classic Sound engineers and editors have managed a good blend of the intimate and the intense. Now and again a soloist may seem unduly reticent - perhaps a vocal problem on the day rather than a matter of recorded balance. But is there another recording that surpasses this one in the expressive power with which choral singing and orchestral playing combine to reinforce the timeless message of this most history-conscious work, rooted as it is in events just prior to the years of its composition (1939-41)? The formidable discipline and sensitivity of the London Symphony Chorus are immediately clear in the well defined dynamic contrasts of Part 1's first movement. While an imposing weight of sonority, as in the Spiritual 'Go Down Moses', can be guaranteed, there is a rare lightness of articulation in the passage beginning 'We are as seed before the wind', which returns in 'Nobody knows the trouble I see'.
Of the soloists, soprano Indra Thomas struggles with foggy vibrato while still managing to float some beautifully unstrained high notes in the final ensemble. Mihoko Fujimura, Steve Davislim and Matthew Rose are all excellent, and it's especially good to have a tenor who sounds young enough to embody the character of Herschel Grynszpan convincingly. Of course, some collectors will not be persuaded that Sir Colin could ever match, let alone outdo, his first, 1975 Philips recording of the work. Nevertheless, the enduring significance of the piece for him is palpable right through to the superbly shaped account of the final Spiritual, 'Deep River'. There are emotional depths here which turn this recording into something very special.
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Works DetailsTippett, Michael : A Child of Our Time, oratorio
- Performers: Steve Davislim (Tenor); Matthew Rose (Bass-Baritone); Indra Thomas (Soprano)
- Conductor: Colin Davis
- Notes: The Barbican, London, England (12/16/2007/12/18/2007)
- Running Time: 51 min. 8 sec.
- Period Time: Modern
- Form: Cantata/Oratorio
- Written: 1939-1941
- Studio/Live: Live