Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy must have held his symphony-cantata Lobgesang in particularly high regard. It was printed as his second symphony, following the publication of his first symphony, but at a time when his Italian Symphony and Reformation Symphony had already been composed. Shortly after its publication the work was performed to great acclaim in Winterthur – which means that this new recording by the Musikkollegium Winterthur stands in the best tradition. Led by its principal conductor Douglas Boyd, the Winterthur symphonic cycle on MDG reaches its magnificent culmination.
Mendelssohn’s contemporaries outside Switzerland looked with suspicion on the combination of three symphonic movements with a nine-part cantata. A few years before Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony had first dared such an experiment with “Freude, schöner Götterfunken,” though within clearly more modest dimensions. The great virtuosity with which Mendelssohn combines the instrumental and vocal parts is fascinating and particularly stands out in the opening fanfare, which later is taken up by the choir to the text “Alles, was Odem hat, lobe den Herrn!” However, this fanfare is also present in the soprano solo “Lobe den Herrn, meine Seele“ and runs like a red thread through the entire work.
The Musikkollegium is joined by a top trio formed by the soloists Lisa Larsson, Malin Hartelius, and Jörg Dürmüller. Just listen to the captivating soprano duet “Hüter, ist die Nacht bald hin?” After what feels like infinity, Lisa Larsson’s angelic soprano answers with “Die Nacht ist vergangen!” And when the fabulous Ensemble Corund joins forces with the full orchestra, confirming that the night has passed with the same words, listeners sitting at home in front of their loudspeakers will witness a musical sunrise.
In the midst of things instead of merely present: on MDG’s three-dimensional 2+2+2 RRecording, produced with the very finest SACD technique, the vibrant atmosphere of the concert live recording is conveyed with you-are-there quality into the home living room. The impressive acoustics of the Winterthur Town Church do their part in order to enable the magnificent tonal splendor of this masterpiece to unfold in full. A wonderful concert experience!