Monday, March 4, 2024

Mendelssohn’s Elijah greatest recordings | Classical Music

After enormous success in 1836 with the premiere of St Paul, Mendelssohn contemplated writing additional large-scale choral works based mostly on biblical themes.

When did Mendelssohn compose Elijah?

Mendelssohn was notably drawn to the dramatic potential of depicting the extraordinary lifetime of the prophet Elijah, but plans to write down it stalled for a few years, solely to be revived after he acquired a fee for a brand new work to be featured on the 1846 Birmingham Pageant.

The eagerly awaited premiere of Elijah, given within the metropolis’s City Corridor earlier than an viewers of two,000, proved to be a triumph and the oratorio, conspicuously revised by its self-critical composer the next 12 months, shortly established itself as a British choral society favorite.

With a basic response towards perceived Victorian notions of religiosity setting in throughout the twentieth century, Elijah skilled a pointy decline in reputation. However in recent times it has discovered favour in Germany, the place it’s justifiably thought to be a worthy successor to the choral works of Bach and Handel that have been essential influences on the composer.

The most effective recordings of Mendelssohn’s Elijah

Hans-Christoph Rademann (conductor)

Oliemans, Petersen et al; RIAS Kammerchor, Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin (2015)

Accentus ACC30356

It’s a matter of style whether or not you like to expertise Mendelssohn’s masterpiece within the authentic German or in its English translation, since each variations have been deemed genuine by the composer.

This efficiency, recorded reside within the Berlin Konzerthaus in July 2015, proves to be particularly riveting, surpassing extremely rated variations sung in German carried out by Frieder Bernius and Thomas Hengelbrock. The 40-strong RIAS Kammerchor is excellent all through, projecting the textual content not solely with phenomenal readability and sensitivity, but additionally using a variety of dynamics and colouring in order to create the phantasm {that a} far larger physique of singers is concerned.

Equally, the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin is professional in bringing out the subtleties of Mendelssohn’s orchestration and ship arguably the best interval instrument enjoying on disc. Other than the fantastic Marlis Petersen, the soloists is probably not family names, however all of them cowl themselves in glory with expressive and dramatically targeted singing.

However the principle plaudits should go to conductor Hans-Christoph Rademann who is especially expert in sustaining the dramatic momentum by the extra static sections of the second a part of the oratorio. There’s little doubt too that the sheer adrenaline of a reside efficiency, aided by a vivid recording, makes this some of the satisfying of all Elijahs.

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