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Mendelssohn: Elijah / Markl, Ziesak, Mahnke, Genz, Lukas

Mendelssohn / Mdrrc / Mdrso / Markl
Release Date: 10/26/2010 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8572228-29   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Felix Mendelssohn
Performer:  Ruth ZiesakChristoph GenzClaudia MahnkeRalf Lukas,   ... 
Conductor:  Jun Märkl
Orchestra/Ensemble:  MDR Symphony OrchestraMDR Radio Choir
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 2 Hours 13 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

“Elias” is every bit as dramatic as most of the operas of his contemporaries and this set brings out that drama to the full.

Readers of Rev H R Haweis’ once popular and influential book on “Music and Morals” (1871) will recall his near idolisation of Mendelssohn. In praising him, however, he makes him sound an intolerable prig, in particular for his stated objections to the triviality and indecency of opera, especially French opera, and his determination to stick to the more uplifting genre of oratorio. Rev Haweis makes much of the distinction between a singer in costume pretending to be Elijah and a concert singer singing the prophet’s words.
 
Clearly the performers on these discs know
Read more nothing of this. They approach the work as if it were an opera of the school of Weber or Lortzing with results that are dramatic and utterly enthralling from start to finish - and for once the second part does not come as an anti-climax. The ominous chords at the start immediately portray this particularly intransigent and hairy prophet, well characterised by the imposing voice of Ralf Lukas (whose other roles include Hans Sachs and Wotan), and the main part of the Overture is given real dramatic thrust leading to the great entry of the chorus. From then on the whole work emerges in all its varied character. The soloists are well chosen, with fresh sounding voices as well as the ability to characterise all aspects of the music. The chorus are good if possibly a little heavy at times, but the real hero of the set is the orchestra which performs with the kind of clarity, energy and transparency so essential in Mendelssohn. I suspect that much of this is down to the conductor, Jun Märkl, who sets tempi that feel just right. For once the concluding chorus to Part 1 (“Thanks be to God” in Bartholomew’s translation) avoids sounding like a descent into banality as too often is the case, and the imaginatively scored accompaniments to “O rest in the Lord” and “Hear ye, Israel” make their full effect.
 
Not everything is perfect. The chorus seem to have been recorded in a more resonant acoustic than the orchestra or soloists and the gaps between movements are sometimes marginally longer than is desirable, but these are minor defects. It is regrettable that a libretto is not included but this can be accessed from the Naxos website if you do not already have one.
 
Given the current fashion for staging oratorios and other sacred works it is surprising that, to the best of my knowledge, no one has tried this with Elias. After hearing this set directors may be tempted, but I would be surprised if the result could be any more effective as drama than listening to this set. Whatever Mendelssohn’s views on opera were as an adult (he wrote several as a teenager) “Elias” is every bit as dramatic as most of the operas of his contemporaries and this set brings out that drama to the full.
 
-- John Sheppard, MusicWeb International 
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Works on This Recording

1.
Elijah, Op. 70 by Felix Mendelssohn
Performer:  Ruth Ziesak (Soprano), Christoph Genz (Tenor), Claudia Mahnke (Mezzo Soprano),
Ralf Lukas (Bass), Luise Müller (Treble)
Conductor:  Jun Märkl
Orchestra/Ensemble:  MDR Symphony Orchestra,  MDR Radio Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1846-1847; Germany 
Language: German 

Sound Samples

Elijah, Op. 70: Part I: Introduction: So wahr der Herr, der Gott Israels, lebet (Bass)
Elijah, Op. 70: Part I: Overture
Elijah, Op. 70: Part I: Hilf, Herr! Hilf, Herr! (Chorus) - Recitative: Die Tiefe ist versieget! (Chorus)
Elijah, Op. 70: Part I: Duet: Herr, hore unser Gebet! (Soprano, Alto, Chorus)
Elijah, Op. 70: Part I: Recitative: Zerreisset eure Herzen (Tenor)
Elijah, Op. 70: Part I: Aria: So ihr mich von ganzem Herzen suchet (Tenor)
Elijah, Op. 70: Part I: Aber der Herr sieht es nicht (Chorus)
Elijah, Op. 70: Part I: Recitative: Elias, gehe weg von hinnen (Alto)
Elijah, Op. 70: Part I: Double Quartet: Denn er hat seinen Engeln befohlen uber dir (Chorus) - Recitative: Nun auch der Bach vertrocknet ist (Alto)
Elijah, Op. 70: Part I: Recitative, Aria and Duet: Was hast du an mir getan, du Mann Gottes! (Soprano, Bass)
Elijah, Op. 70: Part I: Wohl dem, der den Herrn furchtet (Chorus)
Elijah, Op. 70: Part I: Recitative: So wahr der Herr Zebaoth lebet (Bass, Tenor, Chorus)
Elijah, Op. 70: Part I: Baal, erhore uns! (Chorus)
Elijah, Op. 70: Part I: Recitative: Rufet lauter (Bass, Chorus)
Elijah, Op. 70: Part I: Recitative: Rufet lauter! Er hort euch nicht! (Bass, Chorus)
Elijah, Op. 70: Part I: Aria: Herr Gott Abrahams, Isaaks und Israels (Bass)
Elijah, Op. 70: Part I: Quartet: Wirf dein Anliegen auf den Herrn (Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass)
Elijah, Op. 70: Part I: Recitative: Der du deine Diener machst zu Geistern (Bass, Chorus)
Elijah, Op. 70: Part I: Aria: Ist nicht des Herrn Wort wie ein Feuer (Bass)
Elijah, Op. 70: Part I: Arioso: Weh ihnen, dass sie von mir weichen! (Alto)
Elijah, Op. 70: Part I: Recitative: Hilf deinem Volk, du Mann Gottes! (Tenor, Bass, Treble, Chorus)
Elijah, Op. 70: Part I: Dank sei dir, Gott (Chorus)
Elijah, Op. 70: Part II: Aria: Hore, Israel, hore des Herrn Stimme! (Soprano) - Recitative: So spricht der Herr (Soprano) - Aria: Ich bin euer Troster (Soprano)
Elijah, Op. 70: Part II: Furchte dich nicht, spricht unser Gott (Chorus)
Elijah, Op. 70: Part II: Recitative: Der Herr hat dich erhoben aus dem Volk (Bass, Alto, Chorus)
Elijah, Op. 70: Part II: Wehe ihm, er muss sterben! (Chorus)
Elijah, Op. 70: Part II: Recitative: Du Mann Gottes (Tenor, Bass)
Elijah, Op. 70: Part II: Aria: Es ist genug! (Bass)
Elijah, Op. 70: Part II: Recitative: Siehe, er schlaft (Tenor)
Elijah, Op. 70: Part II: Trio: Hebe deine Augen auf zu den Bergen (Chorus)
Elijah, Op. 70: Part II: Siehe, der Huter Israels (Chorus)
Elijah, Op. 70: Part II: Recitative: Stehe auf, Elias (Alto, Bass)
Elijah, Op. 70: Part II: Aria: Sei stille dem Herrn und warte auf ihn (Alto)
Elijah, Op. 70: Part II: Wer bis ans Ende beharrt, der wird selig (Chorus)
Elijah, Op. 70: Part II: Recitative: Herr, es wird Nacht um mich (Bass, Soprano)
Elijah, Op. 70: Part II: Der Herr ging voruber (Chorus)
Elijah, Op. 70: Part II: Recitative: Seraphim standen uber ihm (Alto) - Quartet: Heilig, heilig, heilig ist Gott (Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass, Chorus)
Elijah, Op. 70: Part II: Recitative: Gehe wiederum hinab! (Bass, Chorus)
Elijah, Op. 70: Part II: Arioso: Ja, es sollen wohl Berge weichen (Bass)
Elijah, Op. 70: Part II: Und der Prophet Elias brach hervor wie ein Feuer (Chorus)
Elijah, Op. 70: Part II: Aria: Dann werden die Gerechten leuchten (Tenor)
Elijah, Op. 70: Part II: Recitative: Darum ward gesendet der Prophet Elias (Soprano)
Elijah, Op. 70: Part II: Aber einer erwacht von Mitternacht (Chorus)
Elijah, Op. 70: Part II: Quartet: Wohlan, alle die ihr durstig seid (Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass)
Elijah, Op. 70: Part II: Alsdann wird euer Licht hervorbrechen (Chorus)

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