The Magnificently Scored Oratorio »Luther in Worms«
The Reformer Martin Luther is being honored in numerous events and publications during the Luther Decade and in preparation for the celebration of the five hundredth anniversary of the Reformation in 2017. So this month cpo too is presenting the oratorio Luther in Worms by Ludwig Meinardus in a recording from the Twenty-Second Knechtsteden Festival. Hermann Max performs Meinardus’ lavishly scored and operatic principal work with the renowned Concerto Köln orchestra and a choice ensemble of vocalists. After Ludwig Meinardus had prevailed against his parents’ opposition to his pursuit of a musician’s career and had been harshly rebuffed by judgments pronounced by Schumann and Mendelssohn, he joined a pietistic revival movement in which nationalism went hand in hand with Protestantism. Nevertheless, his principal work does not go over into empty bombast and heroic posing but holds in store many musical refinements, including those characterizing Luther’s person in particular. Meinardus himself termed his work an »ideal drama,« by which he meant a strongly operatic design including spatial effects (fanfares sounding from towers, knights approaching on horseback, and proclamations shouted by imperial heralds). The oratorio is divided into two parts; the first is entitled »The Journey to Worms« and the second »Before the Emperor and the Empire.« Following the performance klassik. com wrote: »Meinardus calls for considerable performance forces. Along with a full orchestra, these are seven soloists, a mixed choir in various formations extending to a double choir, and (actually) a boys’ choir. The Rheinische Kantorei rose to the challenge in a mixed choir, ensembles for women and men, and a formation extending to a triple choir and thus once again conveyed to the eyes and the ears what an ideal choral sound should be with respect to balance and articulation. Hermann Max sovereignly guided the greatly expanded Concerto Köln with brisk tempi through all the difficulties of the score« (concert review in klassik. com 9 / 2013).