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Classical Music Review

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Buddha Goes to Bayreuth


Composer: Robert Moran
Conductor: Rupert Huber
Label: Neuma Records
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 19 February 2021

Salzburg Cathedral in Austria has seen a lot in its 1200-year history – bombs, lightning strikes, even the baptism of baby Mozart – but this was probably a first: an ecstatic Buddhist paean drenching the whole reverberant acoustic in harmonic vocal clouds for an hour. Robert Moran's Buddha Goes to Bayreuth is released via Neuma Records...

Richard Wagner originally had the idea to write an opera about the life of Buddha but he never managed to get around to it. In 2001 Philadelphia composer Robert Moran (Points of Departure) tried his own take for a festival. It takes a vast theme and projects it into the even vaster room, where time and space are one; spirit and sound. Moran’s Buddha goes to Bayreuth is scored for two choirs, two string ensembles, solo countertenor, and very long reverb.

I can only imagine how magnificent this would have sounded thanks to the acoustics of the Salzburg Cathedral. While this audio recording is incredible, it could never hope to capture the exact same experience as being there would have elicited.

This two-part work (2 track, 1 hr, 06 min, 29 sec) is ethereal, emotional and, on occasion, quite eerie. It's an atmospheric choral performance which subtly shifts and changes to bring forth some truly beautiful moments.

It feels more like performance art, of the highest order, with the harmonics bringing forth wonder, discovery and a true celebration of life. This is a life affirming experience which will touch your soul and leave you feeling drained. This is as close to a spiritual experience as you could ever hope to have listening to music.


Darren Rea

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