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Hyperion Records

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Tyrolean Girl Contemplating a Crucifix (detail) (1865) by Rudolph Friedrich Wasmann (1805-1886)
Hamburger Kunsthalle, Germany / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67558
Recording details: July 2005
St John's College Chapel, Cambridge, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Julian Millard
Release date: May 2006
Total duration: 12 minutes 29 seconds

'Outgoing, excitingly resonant, spirited singing' (Gramophone)

'I doubt that you would find a better performance of Mendelssohn's sacred choral music than this. Finely executed with immaculate phrasing sensitively performed, it is clear that David Hill is leading the choir of St John's to even greater heights while it maintains its own highly individual sound. The whole production is worthy of the highest praise' (Choir & Organ)

'This is one special record' (American Record Guide)

'Some lovely—indeed memorable—performances here; including a gorgeous account of Mendelssohn's richly opulent Ave Maria, Op 23 No 2 (Allan Clayton the wonderfully yearning tenor soloist) and a gloriously magisterial Warum toben die Heiden? from Op 78 … Quentin Beer is an impressively clear and pure-voiced treble in that most famous of all treble solos—O, for the wings of a dove … the recording is a triumph. Hyperion has come up with a far more rewarding sound than either Decca or Naxos was ever able to achieve at St John's' (International Record Review)

'The Choir of St John's College, Cambridge, under David Hill, simply outsings all the current competition in sacred music by Mendelssohn' (Fanfare, USA)

Aus tiefer Not, Op 23 No 1
November 1830; Three Sacred Pieces, Op 23
author of text

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The Three Sacred Choruses, Op 23, were composed shortly after Mendelssohn’s arrival in Rome in November 1830 and directly in response to one of his first visits to the Vatican City. The twenty-one-year-old composer reported enthusiastically to his family that each morning he would play, sing and compose before setting off on sight-seeing trips around the Italian capital. Musically, however, he was decidedly underwhelmed, bemoaning the prevailing standards of orchestral playing as ‘worse than anyone can possibly imagine’. The singing he heard also apparently left a lot to be desired.

The first of the Three Sacred Choruses, Aus tiefer Not, is structured in five sections, four of which are unaccompanied and built on the main chorale theme. The central third—itself a paraphrase of the chorale—is accompanied and cast in Mendelssohn’s flowing, lyrical style, in stark contrast to the neo-Bachian music (most notably the fugal second movement) by which it is surrounded.

from notes by Julian Haylock © 2006

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