The ‘archaic’ austerity and raw emotional power of Mitten wir im Leben sind
sets it apart from Mendelssohn’s characteristic vocal idiom. This is derived directly from Samuel Scheidt and Johann Sebastian Bach, whom Mendelssohn considered the greatest of all composers and whose modern reputation he effectively secured with a historic performance of the St Matthew Passion in 1829. Mitten wir
is divided into three verses, each concluded by a ‘Kyrie eleison’, and characterized by the textural contrasts achieved by setting plaintive chorales against energized, contrapuntal vivaces. Most memorable of all is the way Mendelssohn resolves the intensity of the opening pair of ‘Kyries’ with the floated closing phrases.
from notes by Julian Haylock © 2006