Mendelssohn – Elijah

https://www.discogs.com/Mendelssohn-Gwyneth-Jones-Janet-Baker-Nicolai-Gedda-Dietrich-Fischer-Dieskau-Simon-Woolf-Wandsworth-/release/11288725

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So after the violin concerto I wanted to hear a bit more of Mendelssohn. I wanted a boxed Mendelssohn. Three records full of his oratorio about the Old Testament prophet Elijah. What a disappointment it was. This sounds like Bach and Händel produced a boring deformed child.

Mendelssohn did good things for old works. He is practically solely responsible for the rebirth of Bach in our time. He never stopped putting the works of the baroque into public attention. I respect him for that. But he also tried his hand at what sounds, looks and smells like a cheap ripoff. I have no respect for that.

Elijah had its premiere in Birmingham in 1846. It is still popular in English speaking countries, but its reception has been very varied, with the thoughts I expressed above as major critique.

This is an oratorio. Opera and oratorium share a similar structure. Both are works with solo voices, and a story with roles. I suppose the biggest difference is that opera has added stageplay. Opera has decor pieces and singers that act their parts. In an oratorium acting is kept to a minimum. That might have to do with its connection with religion. They were usually performed in churches, where acting is thought of as sinful and extraneous.

I didn’t know the work when I bought it. It came from a big batch of similar boxes from the library. I think I was just curious. I also knew I really liked Händels oratorium Esther, so maybe I just waned to try something similar.

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