Gloria Bruni Ringparable symphony delivers powerful message

To say Gloria Bruni is talented would be an understatement. She’s a renowned soprano, violinist, and composer. Her experience as both a vocal and instrumental performer seems to inform the choices she makes as a composer.

Her Symphony No. 1 was premiered in 2012 and has nothing to do with Wagner. “Ringparabel” refers to a story told in a play by 18th Century author Gotthold Ephraim Lessing.

In the parable, a father promises a precious ring to each of his three sons. He has two perfect replicas made, and when he dies, each son gets a ring. The three quarrel over who has the original (and therefore the most valuable). It turns out the original ring was lost long ago — all three are replicas. The true value of the rings comes from how the sons live their lives.

The three rings in the parable represent the three Abrahamic faiths: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Bruni weaves together texts and musical quotes from these faiths in her work.

Just as the three rings in the story have equal value, Bruni seems to give equal weight to her sources of inspiration. The symphony is a wonderful blend. Listening with my Western/Christian background, the work sometimes seemed very familiar, at other times strangely exotic.

Perhaps the same might be true for audiences from different traditions — although they may disagree with my opinion of what is exotic.

Bruni’s music is very rhythmic. Her beefed-up percussion section reminded me of those found in contemporary film music. Her orchestration is quite imaginative, with some very interesting choices for chord spellings.

The Radio Symphony Orchestra Minsk performs with energy and commitment. Deborah Humble and Andrej Morozow deliver solid performances, too. It’s an exciting work with a message we need today.

Gloria Bruni: Symphony No. 1 “Ringparabel”
Deborah Humble, mezzo-soprano; Andrej Morozow, bass
Radio Symphony Orchestra Minsk; Wilhelm Keitel, conductor
Rondeau Productions ROP6177

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