Mendelssohn, born at the very beginning of the 19th century, was a composer who stood at a number of junctures. Firstly, he straddled the sphere of the Classical masters and the new Romantic pathway being forged especially by Beethoven. Secondly, in his personal life, as a Jew who had converted to Protestantism, he struggled to be accepted fully into his new religion, despite his close adherence to its principles. Thirdly, and most relevantly to this collection, he was privy to an ongoing debate concerning the place and function of church music within religious services.
These cantatas, although relatively disregarded by the overly self-critical composer and consequently only published in the 1970s and 80s, demonstrate Mendelssohn’s ability to strike a pleasing and impressive balance between the two extremes of this debate. The pieces are certainly not ‘utility music’ intended merely to serve a specific purpose within a church service; but neither do they cast off the liturgical framework in the manner of Beethoven’s Ninth or Mendelssohn’s ‘Reformation’ Symphony. Each one succeeds in having its own captivating effect capable of transporting the listener.
The Psalm Cantatas are performed here by the Chamber Choir of Europe who, among numerous other feats, have already recorded the complete sacred choral works of both Mozart and Mendelssohn. They are led by Nicol Matt, a specialist in church music who has had several releases on Brilliant Classics and sold over eight million CDs worldwide.
- Recorded in 2002, Studio der Württembergischen Philharmonie Reutlingen.
- The only single CD with the complete Psalm Cantatas available.
- Mendelssohn’s Psalm Cantatas are small scale works for vocal soloists, choir and orchestra, based on well known psalms, expressing the general emotional content of the psalm in dramatic and romantic musical language. The writing is firmly rooted in the German choral tradition, no wonder for a composer who revived Bach’s Matthäus Passion in his time.
- Single issue drawn from the set of the complete choral works by Mendelssohn performed by the Chamber Choir of Europe conducted by Nicol Matt, a set which received uniform praise in the international press, among others a prestigious “Diapason d’Or”.
- Contains sung texts and comprehensive liner notes on the composer and music as well as conductor/ensemble biographies.