The most amazing thing on this disc of two works on the text of the Song of Mary ('Magnificat anima mea Dominum' ['My soul magnifies the Lord']) is the first of Mendelssohn's Magnificat settings, written when he was thirteen. (He wrote, late in his too-short life, another Magnificat, Op. 69, No. 3.) This early work is his first large work for chorus, orchestra and soloists and is filled with magnificent contrapuntal and dramatic moments. It is in six movements and includes, among others, a virtuoso movement for basso, 'Fecit potentiam' ['He has shown strength'] sung magnificently here by David Dong-Geun Kim. The concluding Gloria Patri fugue is sung and played brilliantly by the Yale Schola Cantorum and the accompanying Yale Collegium Players. Music by Mendelssohn on the disc also includes the Fugue from his Twelfth String Symphony in G Minor, written less than a year after the Magnificat and also his Kirchenmusiken ('Church Music'), the latter sung by tenor Birger Radde and the eight-singer (pun alert!) Yale Voxtet.
The CD is rounded out with a stirring performance of the thrice-familiar D Major Magnificat by Johann Sebastian Bach. All of these works are directed by Simon Carrington, known primarily as one of the founders of the fabled King's Singers and for the past several years a professor at Yale University, where he founded the Yale Schola Cantorum. Assisting Carrington in preparation of this CD are Robert Mealy, editor of the String Symphony fugue, superb baroque violinist, and leader/concertmaster of the original-instruments Yale Collegium Musicum, and the well-known oratorio tenor James Taylor, artistic director of the Yale Voxtet. Taylor is best-known for his association with Helmut Rilling on whose Bach Cantata recordings he made frequent appearances.
This disc, aside from containing excellent performances at budget price, is interesting for showing how the compositional style of the young Mendelssohn was influenced strongly by Bach, whose music he later effectively fostered after nearly a century of relative neglect.