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Mendelssohn: Choral Works

Mendelssohn: Choral Works

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The MDR Leipzig Radio Choir and its artistic director Philipp Ahmann present a collection of Felix Mendelssohn’s choral music, which arguably represents the pinnacle of German nineteenth-century religious music. Ranging across psalm settings, motets, Latin verses, the Deutsche Liturgie as well as the ethereal chorus Denn er hat seinen Engeln befohlen, which was later adapted and incorporated into his oratorio Elijah, the album highlights the unique stylistic range and expressive power of Mendelssohn’s choral output. A unique addition to the programme is the world premiere recording of Heilig, MWV 47. The music on this album seamlessly integrates stylistic traits of Palestrina and Bach, remnants of Jewish cantor practices, as well as the Romanticism of Mendelssohn’s time.

Generally considered one of the best choirs in the German-speaking world, the singers of the MDR Leipzig Radio Choir are proficient in this repertoire, written by a local musical giant whose music is deeply ingrained into the cultural soil of their city. The MDR Leipzig Radio Choir and its aristic director Philipp Ahmann return to Pentatone with this a cappella album following their acclaimed recording of motets by Anton Bruckner and Michael Haydn (2021). The choir has also taken part in a Pentatone release of Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis (2017), as well as numerous opera recordings released by the label. A San Francisco Classical Recording Company production in association with MDR Klassik.


The Leipzig Radio Choir gives us 16 choral works like 16 suns, all consisting of sacred music...some of [Mendelssohn's] works were intended for the Protestant church, such as Op. 78, and others for the Catholic church, when he was in Rome, and some more for Anglican services, such as Op. 69. Taking as models Bach and Palestrina, all his work has something grandiose, and even more so when he combines the choir with the soloists, or writes for eight voices. The album offers, along with works with more versions available such as those published during the author's lifetime with an opus number, other works that are worth listening to because they do not detract in quality, such as Die Deustsche Liturgie MWV B 57, a sung mass with his Kyrie for double choir, Gloria for double choir and four soloists, and a Sanctus (Heilig) also for double choir.

The versions are wonderful, with the addition that the soloists are members of the choir itself. The balance of the voices, and how Ahmann allows the music to breathe so that it is intelligible, manage to make listening a delight, even when there is a reasonable doubt about how many voices the ideal choir should have for this style. And, as an added gift, a world first is included: a Heilig MWV B 47, for eight voices.

-- Ritmo

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  • Release Specifications

    • Number of Discs: 1
    • Release Date:
    • Label: Pentatone Music
    • UPC/Barcode: 8717306260640
    • Item Number: PTC5187064