LABELS: EMI Double Forte
PERFORMER: Gwyneth Jones (soprano), Janet Baker (contralto), Nicolai Gedda (tenor), Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (baritone), Simon Woolf (treble); Wandsworth School Boys Choir, New Philharmonia Orchestra & Chorus/Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos
CATALOGUE NO: CZS 5 68601 2 ADD Reissue (1968)
Mendelssohn’s oratorio is here sung in the English version to which the composer himself adjusted his notes for the Birmingham premiere in 1846. A few curious pronunciations and an occasionally over-emphatic manner mar what is in many respects a superb account of the title role by Fischer-Dieskau, and if tenor Nicolai Gedda also adopts a strikingly operatic approach then that too strengthens the work’s dramatic credentials.
The young Gwyneth Jones applies plenty of passion to her singing, yet even in 1968 there is a slight loss of control on certain notes. Janet Baker combines the virtues of her colleagues with a perfection of tonal production. The orchestral and choral work is never less than fine, Frühbeck de Burgos striking a balance between momentum and observation of the beauties of the passing moment. For a version in the original German, there’s Sawallisch with Leipzig forces from the same year. George Hall