OP0043. ODYSSEUS (Bruch), Live Performance, 1997, w. Botstein Cond. North German Radio Symphony Orchestra Hannover, North German Radio Chorus, Budapest Radio Chorus; Jeffrey Kneebone, Nancy Maultsby, Camilla Nylund, Bernhard Gärtner, Robert Holzer, etc. (Austria) 2-Koch Schwann 6557, w.34pp. Libretto-brochure in German & English. Very long out-of-print, Final Copy! - 099923655725
“Bruch’s oratorio, written in 1872, was a great success in its own day; Brahms chose a shortened version of it for his final concert as conductor in Vienna in 1875. The work was dedicated to the choral society of Bremen, and it became a particular favourite with amateur choirs, with numerous performances all over Germany. A successful performance in Liverpool in 1877 led to Bruch’s appointment as Director of the Liverpool Philharmonic Society for three seasons from 1880 to 1883. Bruch’s wife, Clara, sang the role of Penelope in several performances of ODYSSEUS in England. In 1894, the music scholar and critic J.A. Fuller Maitland described ODYSSEUS as ‘the work by which Bruch’s name is, perhaps, best known all the world over’.
Today, however, ODYSSEUS is not as well known as Bruch’s popular Violin Concerto in G minor (op.26). There is a recording conducted by Leon Botstein with Radio-Philharmonie Hannover des NDR (Koch Classics, 1999).
Full both of drama and beautiful melody, ODYSSEUS certainly deserves to be better known, with its rich orchestral and choral writing and its interesting take on the ODYSSEY. Looking for a secular theme (he had come to think that religious themes had been played out for oratorio) Bruch hit on the ODYSSEY and was enthralled, telling his sister that it provided ‘incomparable material’. He decided to put together an oratorio from contrasting scenes."
- Margarita Morris, 19 Oct., 2019