Christoph Spering / Chorus Musicus Köln / Das Neue Orchester

Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy: Elias

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Christoph Spering was one of the first conductors to apply the principles of historically informed performance practice to music of the Romantic era, leading cycles of Beethoven and Brahms symphonies. He is especially devoted to the music of Mendelssohn and has performed the composer's 1829 and 1841 versions of Bach's St. Matthew Passion. In this performance of Elijah in the original German, by adhering strictly to the composer's directions, Spering attempts to strip away the traditions of performance practice that have often made the piece come across as a quaint Victorian relic, and the result is a lively and dramatic account of the score. He leads two ensembles that he has conducted since the 1980s, Das Neue Orchester and Chorus Musicus Köln. Spering's reading successfully counters the charges of vacuous piety that have been leveled at Mendelssohn's score. The performance is exceptionally polished without being precious, and highlights both the oratorio's drama and its moments of genuine luminosity. The soloists are top-notch and bring a high level of sophistication to the score. As Elijah, Thomas E. Bauer has a large dramatic voice and makes the protagonist a sympathetic and heroic character. Rainer Trost has a substantial, clarion tenor that's a welcome change from the thin, reedy sound often associated with performances of this part, particularly when it is performed in English. Claudia Barainsky's soprano is gleaming and radiant, and alto Franziska Gottwald sings with velvety warmth. MDG's unprocessed sound is characteristically clean, balanced, and beautifully detailed, quite an achievement in recording a live performance of a piece of this size and complexity.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Elias, Op. 70
1 0:51
2 3:23
3 3:30
4 2:01
5 0:40
6 2:15
7 3:57
8 0:39
9 2:45
10 1:01
11 6:20
12 2:52
13 3:36
14 3:13
15 0:40
16 0:32
17 1:46
18 3:21
19 1:46
20 2:47
21 2:04
22 2:24
23 5:40
24 3:32

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Elias, Op. 70
1 3:07
2 2:05
3 3:50
4 3:13
5 1:36
6 2:16
7 4:31
8 0:49
9 1:49
10 3:02
11 1:39
12 2:25
13 2:42
14 1:34
15 3:54
16 2:58
17 1:19
18 2:34
19 2:39
20 2:24
21 1:12
22 3:14
23 3:04
24 3:02
blue highlight denotes track pick