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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: 7 minutes 45 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)

Warum toben die Heiden?, Op 78 No 1
composer
1843/4
author of text
Psalm 2

Other recordings available for download
Christine Barratt (soprano), Janey Mackenzie (soprano), Joya Logan (alto), Jenny Youde (alto), John Bowen (tenor), Keith Parker (tenor), Kenneth Roles (bass), Graham Dinnage (bass), Corydon Singers, Matthew Best (conductor)
Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The Three Psalms, Op 78, were composed between 1843 and 1844. Mendelssohn was as hectically busy as ever, yet the whirlwind pace of his musical life finds no place in these movingly poised settings. Indeed, it defies belief that Mendelssohn’s treatment of Psalm 2, one of his most sublime creations, could have resulted from such an itinerary. Composed in a matter of days for the Christmas service of 1843, it followed hard upon a series of concerts at the Gewandhaus in Leipzig, a pension fund concert at which he played Bach’s C major Triple Concerto with Ferdinand Hiller and Clara Schumann, premieres of music by Niels Gade and George Alexander Macfarren, mentoring the up-and-coming composer Carl Reinecke, a swift journey to Berlin to conduct the overture to Mozart’s The Magic Flute, a Haydn symphony, and Beethoven’s Symphony No 7 and ‘Emperor’ Piano Concerto, further concerts featuring concertos, symphonies and overtures by Mozart, Beethoven and Weber, accompanying a violin recital with Bernard Molique which included Beethoven’s ‘Kreutzer’ Sonata, among various other engagements. He also received a lucrative offer from William Sterndale Bennett to conduct all of London’s orchestral concerts that season, which he reluctantly had to turn down owing to lack of time.

Warum toben die Heiden (Psalm 2) divides into several musically differentiated sub-sections. After the imposing opening declaration (verses 1–5) with its characteristic dotted rhythms and highly affective antiphonal writing for the male voices of both choirs, a sense of spiritual calm is beautifully conveyed by the use of solo voices, until the gloriously full tutti at the words ‘Du bist mein Sohn’. The music moves into triple metre (3/2) at verse 9 for a tempestuous ‘Du sollst sie mit’, followed by a withdrawn, awe-inspired ‘So lasset euch nun weisen’. The passage which follows (‘Küsset den Sohn’) finds Mendelssohn’s inspiration running at white heat, culminating in a series of ecstatic harmonic suspensions of surpassing beauty. The brief final Gloria (‘Ehre sei dem Vater’) conceals within its apparent simplicity of utterance, a supremely crafted four-part canon.

from notes by Julian Haylock © 2006


Other albums featuring this work
'Mendelssohn: Choral Music' (CDH55268)
Mendelssohn: Choral Music
MP3 £4.99FLAC £4.99ALAC £4.99Buy by post £5.50 CDH55268  Helios (Hyperion's budget label) — Last few CD copies remaining  

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