Mendelssohn: Elijah

There are a large number of recordings available. We list four that have appeared in Radio 3’s ‘Building a Library’ reviews. You can listen to the most recent reviews here.

1 – Iain Burnside’s Choice

Soile Isokoski (soprano), Monica Groop (alto), John Mark Ainsley (tenor), Petteri Salomaa (bass), La Chapelle Royale, Collegium Vocale Gent,Orchestre des Champs-Elysees, Philippe Herreweghe (conductor)
HARMONIA MUNDI HMC901463-64 (2-CD, mid-price)

2 – Brian Kay’s Choice

Bryn Terfel (Elijah), Renée Fleming (The Widow), Patricia Bardon (An Angel), John Mark Ainsley (Obadiah), Libby Crabtree (Soprano II),Sara Fulgoni (The Queen), John Bowen (Ahab),Neal Davies (Bass II), Geoffrey Moses (Bass III),Matthew Monro (The Boy), Edinburgh Festival Chorus,Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Paul Daniel (conductor)

3 – Mid Price

Harold Williams (Elijah), Isobel Baillie (The Widow, An Angel, The Youth), Gladys Ripley (The Angel, The Queen), James Johnston (Obadiah, Ahab), Huddersfield Choral Society, Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Sir Malcolm Sargent (conductor)

4 – Budget Price

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (Elijah), Gwyneth Jones (The Widow, An Angel), Janet Baker(The Angel, The Queen), Nicolai Gedda (Obadiah, Ahab),Simon Woolf (The Youth), Wandsworth School Boys’ Choir,New Philharmonia Chorus & Orchestra, Rafael Fruhbeckde Burgos (conductor)
EMI CZS 5 68601-2 (2-CD, budget)

Mozart Requiem

A classic period performance by the Monteverdi Choir, English Baroque Soloists and Sir John Eliot Gardiner






Click here to find out more.

Gerontius on YouTube

Sir Simon Rattle

We’ve dug out some performances available on YouTube that you may wish to watch.

Simon Rattle and The Vienna Philharmonic

From the 2015 Proms season a performance featuring Simon Rattle’s conducting the Vienna Philharmonic, with Magdalena Kožená, Toby Spence, Roderick Williams, and the BBC Proms Youth Choir.


Fiona Maddocks wrote in her Guardian review:

Set to a text by the Catholic convert Cardinal John Henry Newman, Gerontiuscharts the journey of a soul from sickbed to eternal glory. This meditation on death has rich, complicated and layered string writing, majestic brass, uplifting and fiendishly difficult choruses and an ecstatic version of the hymn “Praise to the holiest in the height”. Beloved of choral societies – some audience members turned up carrying their own vocal parts – the work attracts a particular kind of reverence. Janet Baker remains for many, and with reason, the ideal mezzo to sing the Angel. It’s as if the incense-heavy text has to be neutralised with a comparable severity and beauty of performance style which she so brilliantly provided.

Magdalena Kožená, with her long, flaming-red hair and angelic white, bell-sleeved gown, took a more pre-Raphaelite approach – think of Rossetti’s Beata Beatrix, not so far from Newman’s Dante-inspired world – which will not have pleased all, though Elgar might have found it entirely fitting. Just as some talk with their hands so Kožená moves her arms when she sings, which is not the same as emoting or acting. Occasionally she was in danger of being covered by the orchestra, but her voice has an appealing burnished quality and the Vienna players produced such a glowing, resplendent sound it hardly mattered.

Rattle’s tempi always felt right, the shaping of each phrase natural and unforced.Toby Spence, a tenor of unbridled lyricism and boldness, made the most of Gerontius’s urgent Sanctus fortis, and, after the climactic brass outburst, found anxious release in the final “Take me away, and in the lowest deep/ There let me be”. Roderick Williams was properly exalted and golden-toned as the Angel of the Agony. The stars were the BBC Proms Youth Choir – some 400 singers aged 13-25, trained by Simon Halsey and made up of seven youth choruses from across the UK (CBSO Youth Chorus, Birmingham University Voices, Ulster, the Hallé, Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, and Quay Voices). They are singing it today in Lucerne. Their lives will have been changed by this event. So were ours.