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Premiered in 1937, African-American composer R. Nathaniel Dett’s oratorio The Ordering of Moses takes its text from the Old Testament story of Moses leading the Children of Israel out of slavery under Pharaoh – a subject of special significance for African-Americans – and the spiritual Go Down, Moses. There is an underlying sombreness to the music, leading to dramatic passages which are finely orchestrated, an effective example being Dett’s own setting of Go Down, Moses. The virtuosic tenor role of Moses, conceived by Dett as a young shepherd, is superbly sung by Rodrick Dixon and the performance is accomplished by both singers and orchestra. This is a live performance from Carnegie Hall. The work marks an interesting event in American musical history.

SHIRLEY RATCLIFFE Read the full review on Agora Classica


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