Toronto Mendelssohn Choir Does Justice To Namesake’s Remaining Oratorio

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The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir (Picture: Taylor Lengthy)

Toronto Mendelssohn Choir/Elijah, composed by Felix Mendelssohn, libretto by Julius Schubring, English translation by William Bartholomew, orchestration by Joachim Linckelmann, performed by Jean-Sébastien Vallée, with the College of Toronto MacMillan Singers and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Roy Thomson Corridor, Nov. 2.

Is there something grander in a live performance corridor than an enormous refrain, an enormous orchestra, and large piece of music?

The large romantic sweep of Mendelssohn’s remaining oratorio Elijah (1846) stuffed Roy Thomson Corridor to the rafters, besides you couldn’t make out one phrase that was being sung. It was a traditional case of splendid music-making rendered as diction as mush. The live performance may as effectively have been sung in German reasonably than William Bartholomew’s English translation of Julius Schubring’s libretto.

Quite a lot of folks round me didn’t come again after intermission, and I ponder if it was as a result of they didn’t know what was occurring? The one-page mini program gave us the breakdown of the arias, recitatives and choruses, and who was singing, however maybe a quick synopsis of the prophet’s story might need been in good order. At any fee, there was the music and the voices to hearken to in case you pretended the singing was in a international language.

The oratorio goes again to the Previous Testomony to characteristic occasions from the lifetime of the prophet Elijah, taken principally from Kings 1 and a couple of. Musicologists have famous that the oratorio is stuffed with operatic overtones, significantly the position of Elijah, and actually, a number of have acknowledged that the work is, the truth is, the opera that Mendelssohn by no means wrote. Tragically, the composer died in 1847 on the age of 38, only a 12 months after Elijah premiered on the Birmingham Competition, so we are going to by no means know the works he nonetheless had in him.

For this live performance, the position of Elijah was carried out by visitor baritone Russell Braun, and as he continues so as to add years to his profession, his voice will increase in majesty. From a lightweight, youthful baritone, he has progressed to gravitas. Braun has additionally discovered extra expression, and his Elijah was dramatic and passionate. The truth is, his lament asking God to take his life, that he had had sufficient, was heart-rending.

The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir (Photo: Taylor Long)
The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir (Picture: Taylor Lengthy)

The unique oratorio was scored for eight soloists, two every of soprano, alto, tenor and bass, however efficiency customized normally has 4 soloists together with the position of Elijah. Toronto Mendelssohn Choir director, Jean-Sébastien Vallée, who performed the live performance, went again to the unique rating, and drew these roles from the Toronto Mendelssohn Singers, the skilled core of the TMC, and what wonderful voices they had been. The TMS is clearly a group of proficient soloists.

I ought to cite tenor Marcel d’Entremont as a primary amongst equals for his commanding voice and close to excellent diction. His had been the one sung passages by which you would clearly hear the phrases. His colleagues from the TMS included sopranos Lesley Emma Bouza and Lindsay McIntyre, mezzo-sopranos Julia Barber and Rebecca Claborn, tenor Jacob Abrahamse, and bass Neil Aronoff. All sang with feeling and dedication.

Alongside the best way, Vallée was ready so as to add in choir members soprano Emily Parker and mezzo-sopranos Kirsten Fielding, and Jessica Wright to carry out the beautiful a cappella trio “Elevate thine eyes to the mountains”. Bass Kieran Kane and tenor Nicholas Nicolaidis joined in on the Double Quartet from Half 1, and Christina Baksay from the Toronto Kids’s Refrain sang the position of the Youth. In all, excluding Braun, the live performance featured 13 soloists, which added to the richness of the night.

Vallée, it seems, is a powerful conductor who does nice service for the composer. The oratorio is overflowing in drama, and Vallée whipped the Toronto Symphony and his singers to a frenzy when obligatory, but in addition introduced the lyrical passages with consummate grace. The truth is, one of many excessive factors of this live performance was the distinction Vallée discovered throughout the music, and at all times throughout the idiom of Mendelssohn’s lush romanticism.

The satan is within the particulars, and that’s what Vallée gave us — a superbly detailed studying of the rating. From an orchestral viewpoint, the live performance was most satisfying.

The 2 choirs singing collectively, the TMC and the U of T MacMillan Singers, had been additionally proper on type. There have been no fuzzy entrances, and the singers had been in a position to cease on a dime. They had been fully disciplined. Clearly Vallée had labored with them fastidiously, as a result of passages had been nuanced. The joint choir put out far more than a wall of sound.

As at all times, the TSO was its skilled self, but the gamers gave the impression to be very concerned within the music-making. Their efficiency was greater than mail within the sound. A number of gamers rendered stunning solos (cello, oboe) so as to add to the melancholy of the second. The truth is, the complete orchestra was a dynamic accomplice within the efficiency.

Maestro Vallée had attention-grabbing choreography. The TMS had been behind the orchestra on stage, with the remainder of the 2 choirs above within the loft. Typically the soloists got here to sing in entrance of the orchestra, and generally the voices got here from behind, relying on the impact Vallée wished. He additionally had the soloists react to one another, significantly Braun, who confronted these singing with him, but in addition acknowledged the choir. This staging aspect added a level of poignancy to the live performance, and made the music a extra quick expertise.

In brief, effectively sung and effectively performed, however wants main work on diction.

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Paula Citron
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