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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THIS THRILLING NEW "ELIJAH" RECORDING BEATS ALL
This new recording -sung in English- and by the same forces as the acclaimed 2011 Prom Concert- brings a thrilling 'fresh/old' look to this famous old 'war-horse' of a score.
Unlike all preceding recordings, Paul McCreesh (so well-known in the 'authentic' performance movement)and his team have faithfully returned to the practices of the early performances conducted...
Published on 31 Aug 2012 by afficianado

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4 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A big cast and loud chorus for Mendelssohn's masterpiece
This is Paul McCreesh's realization of Mendelssohn's original performance of Felix Mendelssohn's (1809-47) oratorio Elijah from 1846. The recording is taken from a series of concerts given during 2011 and 2012 in Birmingham Town Hall and Watford Colloseum. McCreesh, a period music practitioner who used an extra-dramatic approach in his recordings of Haydn's Creation and...
Published on 15 Oct 2012 by Larry VanDeSande


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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THIS THRILLING NEW "ELIJAH" RECORDING BEATS ALL, 31 Aug 2012
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This review is from: Mendelssohn: Elijah, 1846 [Gabrieli Consort & Players/Paul McCreesh] (Audio CD)
This new recording -sung in English- and by the same forces as the acclaimed 2011 Prom Concert- brings a thrilling 'fresh/old' look to this famous old 'war-horse' of a score.
Unlike all preceding recordings, Paul McCreesh (so well-known in the 'authentic' performance movement)and his team have faithfully returned to the practices of the early performances conducted by Mendelssohn himself, and those of the decades immediately folllowing that triumphant performance in Birmingham Town Hall in 1846.
Like the 'live' Prom concert on which this recording is based, Paul McCreesh's orchestral and choral forces number over 400.
The augmented orchestra includes the 'period' instruments which Mendelssohn himself wrote for (including the specified ophicleids and serpents) adding vivid wieght and colour, and the massed choir includes not only the Gabrieli Consort at its nucleus but numerous young singers amongst the ranks.
Admittedly, the inspiration of Mendelssohn's writing throughout this lenghty oratorio did occassionally flag, but the enthusiasm of these forces brings it all freshly alive - most often thrillingly.
Amongst the soloists, Simon Keenlyside is a committed Elijah, Sarah Connolly a malevolent Queen -and special mention must be made of the boy-treble Jonty Ward's exceptional singing of the 'weather report' which leads directly into thrilling conclusion of Part One.
For those who heard the 'live' concert broadcast on Radio 3, I can only say that this recording is far superior in it's clarity and detail, as also the balance between the orchestra and the chorus. (e.g. the 'rushing waters' of the violins in "Thanks Be To God" are now to be heard clearly amidst the tumult of brass and wind.)
Such details as impercetively dubbing-in the historically correct sounds of the Birmingham Town Hall organ show the detail and care that has been taken over this project in faithfully realizing this famous and much-loved work anew.
Mention should be made of the exceptional quality of the packaging of the discs -with full texts and translations, and numerous photographs from both the Albert Hall performance and the recording sessions immediately afterwards.
To those who think they 'know' this famous oratorio -or those seeking to investigate it for the first time, I can only say that although I already have several well-acclaimed recordings in my library, this new recording sets a completely different standard by vividly realizing Mendelssohn's imagination and sound-world anew.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A triumphant new recording, 28 Sep 2012
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J. Sanders (Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Mendelssohn: Elijah, 1846 [Gabrieli Consort & Players/Paul McCreesh] (Audio CD)
This new recording of Elijah is utterly fantastic - all soloists are truly excellent. Connolly is particularly impressive and conveys real loathing and hatred in her vocal. The enourmous chorus are hugely well controlled by McCreesh, particularly in large chorus' where sibilant 'S' sounds could be a real issue for example 'He watching over Israel, SlumberS not nor SleepS'. The choir are a formidable force and in conjunction with the superbly dubbed organ of Birmingham Town Hall perform the powerful chorus' of Elijah with ease. The orchestral overture is incredibly well performed and the orchestra throughout are well controlled and play with poise and style.

The only version of Elijah that is worth buying, and it is worth noting that the packaging is also beautifully presented - a real treat.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As Good as it Gets, 8 Oct 2012
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This review is from: Mendelssohn: Elijah, 1846 [Gabrieli Consort & Players/Paul McCreesh] (Audio CD)
Even if you don't know the story of the Oratorio, you know from the first words that Ahab and Israel are in for a bumpy ride. On many oratorio recordings it is difficult to imagine what are the forces; here there is no question. This is big, and you can hear it. Of course, to tell Elijah's story requires a big cast and lots can go wrong when something like this is attempted; here however, it's as good as it gets. In addition to first rate soloists, and I haven't heard a better Elijah than Simon Keenlyside in fifty years, the choral singing is disciplined, and in the quieter moments even sublime. At times Mendelssohn has the chorus narrating, and singers will immediately recognize how these difficult to manage unison moments come off just as they should. The engineers have acheived a right balance between choral and orchestral forces, never forgetting that the story and the text come first. I now have four "Elijah's" in my library, including one in which I was a chorus member; this is the best of the bunch. The icing on the cake is the Amazon pricing. It is always a bargain when you get the best at a good price, and here is one more time when it's about as good as it gets. The whole thing is enhanced by a package that includes a small hardbound book in both English and Polish with photos of rehearsals and recording sessions.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gabrielli Consort/Players at its best again, 18 May 2013
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This review is from: Mendelssohn: Elijah, 1846 [Gabrieli Consort & Players/Paul McCreesh] (Audio CD)
Very good rendition of this Mendelssohn's famous work....good articulation and poise from both choir and orchestra...I find it highly recommendable.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sonic Boom!, 5 Oct 2012
This review is from: Mendelssohn: Elijah, 1846 [Gabrieli Consort & Players/Paul McCreesh] (Audio CD)
Make sure your speakers are firmly fastened to the wall and the foundations of your house are reinforced before your put these discs on to your player. Else the sound of the mass choir as they sing 'Help Lord' might cause considerable damage. This is an amazing sonic experience with the 350 strong choir caught to give maximum impact - and it does! Seldom has Elijah seemed so thrilling an experience. The soloists are excellent. But make sure the neighbours are on holiday when you play it!
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5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can You Not Hear the Whirlwind and See The Chariot of Fire?, 1 Sep 2012
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This review is from: Mendelssohn: Elijah, 1846 [Gabrieli Consort & Players/Paul McCreesh] (Audio CD)
Elijah holds a place in the choral repertoire that needs sustaining and refreshing. The story is that of hero, depressive and a role of great humanity and unassumed majesty. This recording loses none of its Biblical context and above all tells the story to great effect.

It is abundantly apparent that Mendelssohn makes the narrative speak and delivers all aspects with superb pace, clarity and authority. Like a good car it just needed an outstanding driver in McCreesh.

Once I would extol the Baker version and I still sincerely believe that the female leads are superb on that recording.

Later was Terfel and he is magnificent in voice. Many of the ensemble recordings cannot be dismissed but pray we need an Elijah we can believe in and here Keenlyside is that man and I consider leads the field amongst recordings.

I approached this recording expecting niggling flaws after reading the Proms reviews. But there were none!

The test to me is of some half a dozens arias and chorales. From It is Enough to Let the Mountains depart and it clear Keenlyside wins hands down. In fact he does not and cannot in my view disappoint.

The orchestral playing may sound familiar at times but from the outset you sense material differences that are superbly woven into the fabric. Extra gears have come into play. And oh that organ is just the business. The ensemble and choral pieces give no indication of the mix used or for that fact the Polish choir of the Wroclaw Philharmonic Choir - all exemplary in my view.

At no time from my initial listening can I say other than it carries me from start to end and in no way makes me want to put it or cherry pick tracks. The choral signing is so compelling and Mendelssohn affirms his mastery of all he touches.

Gone are the overtly idiomatic pronunciations of laveth and Baal. It genuinely sounds like it should and all the adherences to the original performance are seamlessly achieved, which is the work of genius.

Please deliver us St Paul in English.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the great choral recordings, 8 Oct 2012
This review is from: Mendelssohn: Elijah, 1846 [Gabrieli Consort & Players/Paul McCreesh] (Audio CD)
I've got no hesitation in ranking this as one of the truly great choral recordings.

It's a blazing affirmation of Elijah as a living, breathing masterpiece, and of Paul McCreesh as one of the finest ever choral conductors.

It really is that good, and I predict that this set will win major industry awards when 2012's top classical releases are assessed by the relevant magazines and juries. If you make one classical purchase this year, I'd recommend it should be this one.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful recording, 15 Feb 2013
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This review is from: Mendelssohn: Elijah, 1846 [Gabrieli Consort & Players/Paul McCreesh] (Audio CD)
I note one or two carps about diction. When you have a large body of singers hearing every word is difficult, particularly in fugal writing. This recording is excellent in that it captures the 'big space' feeling, yet you can hear almost all the words. McCreesh makes the orchestra sound like it's playing romantic music-so often conductors view this composer as 'Mozartian' and you cannot hear the brass. Here, the use of period intruments mean the brass come through without swamping the rest of the band. It's great to hear the organ as well-usually omitted, and the engineers have done a wonderful job of marrying the organ to the rest. I heard this recording first on a small radio on holiday, but was thrilled enough to buy it. What a revelation on decent equipment! I was able to recapture the thrill it gave me the first time I sang it at the age of 17. Magnificent.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Elijah brought to life, 12 Sep 2012
This review is from: Mendelssohn: Elijah, 1846 [Gabrieli Consort & Players/Paul McCreesh] (Audio CD)
Absolutely fantastic - it's so alive that you are really there with Elijah and his traumas, trials, tribulations and joys! McCreesh knows how to get the very best out of Mendelssohn. It is superb.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mendelssohn Elijah, 1846, 7 Jan 2013
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This review is from: Mendelssohn: Elijah, 1846 [Gabrieli Consort & Players/Paul McCreesh] (Audio CD)
Wonderful realization of this magnificent work in the grand romantic manner . . . I also loved the packaging of this recording . . . Excellent all around!
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