- Magnificat for soloists, chorus & orchestra in D major
- Sinfonia (String Symphony) for string orchestra No. 12 in G minor
- Magnificat, for 5 voices, 5-part chorus, orchestra & continuo in D major, BWV 243 (BC E14)
- Ave Maria, sacred piece for soloists, chorus & continuo in A major, Op. 23/2
Mendelssohn, Bach: Magnificats in D majorby Yale Voxtet
The central attraction of this release is the program: the "Magnificat in D major," composed when Felix Mendelssohn was 12, is rarely enough recorded, and the main competitor for the Yale Schola Cantorum under Simon Carrington, a disc by German choral specialist Frieder Bernius, joins it with other Mendelssohn choral works rather than taking the logical step heard here. The young Mendelssohn's "Magnificat" was strongly shaped by the famous Bach "Magnificat in D major, BWV 243," and also by a similar work of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, not included here. It'd be worth recording all three pieces together, for what the Mendelssohn work does is nothing less than help rewrite the history of Bach reception. You can recognize it as Mendelssohn, but it's very much an attempt to grasp Bach's music, and as such it shows how Bach was on Mendelssohn's mind and available to him well before the groundbreaking Bach revivals of his maturity. The piece alternates between contrapuntal choral material and highly ornate solos that Mendelssohn's teacher Zelter apparently turned back to him as too complex, and that provide severe challenges for the student soloists on the present recording. (Bass David Dong-Geun Kim is worth watching, however.) They aren't helped by the murky sonic atmosphere, which tends to swallow up the soloists especially. The Bach "Magnificat" itself is rendered in the passionate way that makes college choirs attractive, however, and the technically simpler "Ave Maria, Op. 23/2," a much less Bachian work, makes a lovely conclusion. For those interested in the Romantic revival of Bach and of Baroque counterpoint in general this will be a useful release.
- Release Date:
Performance CreditsYale Voxtet Primary Artist
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Johann Sebastian Bach had no greater acolyte than Felix Mendelssohn. Everybody knows the story of Mendelssohn's great love and respect for Bach's music and his revival of the Saint Matthew Passion in 1829, so this coupling of Bach's Magnificat and an 1822 setting by Mendelssohn is nicely conceived. Mendelssohn's Grave and Fuga for strings and a fantastic 1830 of the Ave Maria round out the program. What can be said about Bach's Magnificat? It's the most famous setting of the canticle in the choral repertoire and it's been recorded hundreds of times before. I was taken with the energy and precision of this performance led by Simon Carrington. Carrington is one of the wonders of the choral world, a teacher, singer and conductor of the highest order and the Yale Schola Cantorum is fantastic. If you have choral radar you will know that Carrington founded the group in 2003 (when he was running the Yale Institute of Sacred Music) to sing early music and contemporary works. The ensemble has recorded brilliant records of Biber's Vesperae longiores ac breviores, Bertali's Missa Resurrectionis and J.S. Bach's St. John Passion in the 1725 version - all are sublime. Carrington has moved on-Masaaki Suzuki of the Bach Collegium Japan now runs the show-but this recording is a marvelous tribute to how skilled a Carrington-led choir can be. It's a really top-notch Magnificat performance. As good as the Bach is, it's the Mendelssohn that's going to sell the recording. Mendelssohn sampled some ideas from J.S. and C.P.E. Bach's Magnificats as well as dipping into an instrumental palette that tastes Baroque-check out the high trumpets in the opening chorus. There's much to love here. The Fecit potentiam is a Bach-styled bravura aria for bass, brass and timpani that all but stops the show. The Deposuit potentes, a florid trio for soprano, alto and bass with some lovely support from the winds is outstanding. Perhaps most memorable is the gorgeous setting of the Quia respexit for soprano, viola, bassoon and chorus that is stunning. The Ave Maria is another terrific find. Carrington opts for the work's original scoring for chorus, winds and brass and it showcases the rich sound of the excellent choir.