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Mendelssohn: Elias, Paulus, A Midsummer Night's Dream / Herreweghe, Champs-Elysees Orchestra


Release Date: 11/10/2009 
Label:  Harmonia Mundi   Catalog #: 2908336   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Felix Mendelssohn
Performer:  John Mark AinsleyMonica GroopSoile IsokoskiPetteri Salomaa,   ... 
Conductor:  Philippe Herreweghe
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ghent Collegium VocaleChamps-Élysées OrchestraLa Chapelle Royale
Number of Discs: 5 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

...Herreweghe [has a] lean, lithe way with the score... If you want to experience the work at its most compelling, and can bear with the original German text, try...the intimate Herreweghe.

-- Gramophone [1/1996, reviewing the original release of Elijah, HM 901463]

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...I have also enjoyed Philippe Herreweghe’s version of Elijah on period instruments with La Chapelle Royale, Collegium Vocale Gent and Orch. des Champs Elysées. Using a German text this recording from Metz in 1993 has a pleasing cast of soloists.

-- Michael Cookson, MusicWeb International [reviewing Read more href="album.jsp?album_id=21931">HM 901463]

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The renewed interest in Mendelssohn's oratorios continues apace with another recording of his Paulus. Herreweghe steers something of a middle course between Masur's traditional approach and the asceticism of Spering with his small choir and orchestra. Like all Herreweghe's performances of choral works, this one has a welcome unity of purpose in a reading notable for finely moulded choral singing and sensitively executed orchestral playing, all controlled by the conductor's disciplined yet flexible beat. He is keenly aware of the need, in a somewhat diffuse work, for firm contrasts between the reflective and the dramatic. The Bachian chorales have real inwardness, the aggressive interventions of the Philistine, for example at the end of No. 38, "Steiniget ihn" ("stone him"), thrown at the converted Paul attempting good works, are splendidly vital. The whole has a secure and well-integrated profile.

This new version scores over both its rivals in having Matthias Görne, the young German justly praised for his Lieder recitals at London's Wigmore Hall, in the title part. His mellow, vibrant baritone may not have quite the authority and ferocity of Adam (for Masur) as the unreformed Saul, but his tone falls more gratefully on the ear and he sings the wonderful aria "Gott sei mir gnadig" with nobility; here and elsewhere his mellow, sensitively contoured singing is balm to the ear... If you want an intimate, small-scale reading, Herreweghe is the one to go for...

-- Gramophone [4/1996, reviewing the original release of Paulus, HM 901584]

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Gone are the days when Mendelssohn was patronized as a benignly smiling by-product of early romanticism, best served by his busy scherzos and a handful of charming Songs without Words. With baroque music as 'flavour of the age', it seems only natural that we should rediscover—indeed reappraise—all that is neat, winsome and uncluttered in Mendelssohn's music, its slender forms and high level of invention. Most modern performances of A Midsummer Night's Dream have tended to reflect this new-found appreciation... Philippe Herreweghe now joins them, underlining—much as he did in his excellent Elijah—the dramatic impact of Mendelssohn's strategic brass writing. Eleven items are included out of a potential total of 14; the string tone is chaste and pure, the winds likewise, while the overall sound picture is both warm and luminous... A lean, dramatic and nicely shaped Hebrides Overture completes a disc...

-- Gramophone [4/1995, reviewing the original release of the Midsummer Night's Dream music, HM 2901502]
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Works on This Recording

1.
Elijah, Op. 70 by Felix Mendelssohn
Performer:  John Mark Ainsley (Tenor), Monica Groop (Mezzo Soprano), Soile Isokoski (Soprano),
Petteri Salomaa (Bass)
Conductor:  Philippe Herreweghe
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ghent Collegium Vocale,  Champs-Élysées Orchestra,  La Chapelle Royale
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1846-1847; Germany 
2.
Saint Paul, Op. 36 by Felix Mendelssohn
Performer:  Annette Markert (Alto), Melanie Diener (Soprano), James Taylor (Tenor),
Matthias Gorne (Bass)
Conductor:  Philippe Herreweghe
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ghent Collegium Vocale,  Champs-Élysées Orchestra,  La Chapelle Royale
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1836; Germany 
3.
Midsummer Night's Dream Overture, in E major Op. 21 by Felix Mendelssohn
Conductor:  Philippe Herreweghe
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Champs-Élysées Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1826; Germany 
4.
Midsummer Night's Dream, Op. 61 by Felix Mendelssohn
Conductor:  Philippe Herreweghe
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ghent Collegium Vocale,  Champs-Élysées Orchestra,  La Chapelle Royale
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1842; Germany 
5.
Hebrides Overture, in B minor Op. 26 "Fingal's Cave" by Felix Mendelssohn
Conductor:  Philippe Herreweghe
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Champs-Élysées Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1829-1832; Rome, Italy 

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