Mendelssohn: Paulus

COMPOSERS: Mendelssohn
LABELS: Hanssler
WORKS: Paulus
PERFORMER: Juliane Banse (soprano), Ingeborg Danz (alto), Michael Schade (tenor), Andreas Schmidt (bass); Gächinger Kantorei Stuttgart, Prague Chamber Choir, Czech PO/Helmuth Rilling
A good performance of St Paul (1836) can make you wonder why its reputation is so much lower than that of Elijah, which followed a decade later. A bad performance tells you the answer: the narrative thrust is weaker, and the choruses too often lapse into predictable sub-Bach forms. Rilling’s performance is neither really good nor totally bad. The main weakness is the shrill, insecure choral singing, not helped by an over-resonant acoustic. But the Czech Philharmonic plays with real commitment, and the four soloists are excellent. Stephen Maddock