Notes and Editorial Reviews
Doris Hagel, cond; Sabine Goetz (sop); Dorothée Zimmermann (alt); Markus Brutscher (ten); Klaus Mertens (bs); Kantorei der Schlosskirche Weilburg; Capella Weilburgensis
PROFIL 9008 (2 CDs: 130:05
was Mendelssohn’s first oratorio, a new development of a form that had gone nowhere after Handel’s time and Haydn’s. His efforts to revive Bach’s liturgical music figured in this renewal of a
non-liturgical form, but he introduced contemporary techniques into the oratorio.
followed a decade later and won greater popularity, but the earlier work, which came to records later, is now well represented in the catalogs. The libretto is remarkable for its attenuation of the subject, for while the incidents recounted in the Acts of the Apostles could hardly be included in their entirety, the selection is hardly balanced. Halfway through the first hour, Saul has been merely a bystander at the martyrdom of St. Stephen. The journey to Damascus covers another half hour. The second half of the work involves the early missionary journey with Barnabas, the miracle at Lystra, and the farewell to the people of Ephesus. This hardly begins to tell the story of Paul the apostle.
The performance is lovely. I had never heard of Doris Hagel before this, but after checking the negative review of her Dvo?ák Requiem (30:4), I have to assume that three new soloists (joining Klaus Mertens) and the passage of three years have given her more to work with, including perhaps a better choice of players for her pickup ensemble. The solo and choral singers make the most of Mendelssohn’s word-settings, which are very effective in bringing out the drama, such as it is, of the events. Some of the numbers were popular on recordings long before the first complete release, notably “Gott, sei mir gnädig,” which Mertens renders with feeling. This is my first exposure to the work, so I can’t compare it with the competition, but it strikes me as creditable.
FANFARE: J. F. Weber
Works on This Recording
Saint Paul, Op. 36 by Felix Mendelssohn
Klaus Mertens (Bass),
Sabine Goetz (Soprano),
Dorothèe Zimmermann (Alto),
Markus Brutscher (Tenor)
Kantorei der Schlosskirche Weilburg,
Written: 1836; Germany
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