"Emperor of Atlantis" Review

The Foxglove Guesthouse

By Daniel Handshue

Viktor Ullmann's 1943 "The Emperor of Atlantis" was presented by Music of Remembrance in the Nordstrom Recital Hall at Benaroya Hall last night. The chamber orchestra, consisting of members of the Seattle Symphony, was conducted by Ludovic Morlot.

This was my first exposure to this music; however I really enjoyed the variety of musical textures and colors (including guitar, harmonium and banjo) present in such a short work. The singing was very high quality; I was particularly impressed with Megan Chenovick's Bubikopf - her love duet with Marcus Shelton's Soldier was a high point. Also impressive was Victor Benedetti as the Emperor, his farewell was very moving.

Ross Hauck's Harlequin and Jonathan Silvia's Death added humor and poignancy in equal measures; Death's final aria as he offers to return to work was haunting particularly so given the history of the composer and the work.

The program also includes a 1924 "Prayer" by Ernest Bloch (the cello solo being played by a very talented young man, Benjamin Shmidt) and "Three Jewish Dances" by Marc Lavry. I would recommend Sunday's matinee performance to Seattle listeners.