By Alan Blyth
Following the winning volumes of tune on checklist, this ebook surveys all of the recordings of significant choral works from the Monteverdi Vespers to Britten's conflict Requiem. dialogue of some of the interpretations on list is preceded, in each one bankruptcy, by means of knowledgeable feedback of the paintings involved, including--where appropriate--a rationalization of versions, revisions, and so on. (all the various adjustments in Messiah are, for example, defined in detail). The assurance of recordings is exhaustive and its worth is stronger via a close discography, with updated numbers of every recording. each one contributor is an expert inside his or her expert sector and jointly, their insights and observations of prime song critics make the booklet helpful to checklist creditors, song enthusiasts and an individual with an curiosity in altering tastes and sorts of musical functionality. Alan Blyth, previously with the days (London) is now the track critic of The day-by-day Telegraph. he's at the editorial board of Opera, the editor of the three-volume Opera on list and two-volume tune on list (CUP), in addition to writer of Remembering Britten and creation to Wagner's Ring.
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The orchestra, a melange of professionals and amateurs and the amateur chorus are adequate, the soloists rarely more than passable in this abridged English-language performance. The Evangelist, Eric Greene, was highly regarded in his day, but by this stage in his career his voice was in tatters; the straining for the high notes is painful and much more pronounced than in the nearly complete English-language set recorded nearly ten years before under the direction of Reginald Jacques (32). Jacques's is an essentially Romantic performance that is valuable primarily as a souvenir of Kathleen Ferrier's distinctive voice, but she did better for Karajan in Vienna two years later.
The conclusion is as inescapable as it is obvious. Bach performed the SMP with a total of eight singers in the double choruses. The instrumental complement, Rifkin claims, was similarly intimate: a solo violin in each of the two bands, one of which accompanies Chorus One and the other of which accompanies Chorus Two, two ripieno first violins, two second violins, one viola, one cello, a violone and - in 1736, at least - two continuo organs. None of the winds was doubled. That Bach could successfully have brought off a work as lengthy, as demanding and as monumental as the SMP with such intimate forces seems impossible to us nowadays, particularly since we know how vociferously he complained about the inadequacies of the performing forces available to him.
Through the violinist Joseph Joachim, he stood in a direct line of pedagogical descent from Mendelssohn himself, and his brisk urgent tempos and long legato phrases have their origins in the essentially late classical style in which both Mendelssohn and his colleagues in Berlin and Leipzig performed their own music and that of their antecedents. It comes, therefore, as a shock for those who hear it for the first time to discover that Ochs's recording of the opening chorus (HMV EJ 195) is the exact opposite of the ponderous and turgid interpretations that the wellknown Mengelberg performance had previously misled them into assuming to have been the norm.