- Audio CD (Nov 1 1995)
- Number of Discs: 2
- Label: Telarc
- ASIN: B000003D0S
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #20,200 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
|1. Introduction (Elijah) - 'As God The Lord Of Israel Liveth'|
|3. 1. Chorus - 'Help Lord'|
|4. Quartet: Recitative - 'The Deep Affords No Water'|
|5. Duet With Chorus - 'Zion Spreadeth Her Hands For Aid'|
|6. 3. Recitative (Obadiah) - 'Ye People, Rend Your Hearts'|
|7. 4. Air (Obadiah) - 'If With All Your Hearts'|
|8. 5. Chorus - 'Yet Doth The Lord See It Not'|
|9. 6. Recitative (Angel) - 'Elijah! Get Thee Hence'|
|10. 7. Double Quartet - 'For He Shall Give His Angels'|
See all 24 tracks on this disc
|1. 21. Air - 'Hear Ye, Israel!'|
|2. 22. Chorus - 'Be Not Afraid'|
|3. 23. Recitative (Elijah, Queen) And Chorus - 'The Lord Hath Exalted Thee'|
|4. 24. Chorus - 'Woe To Him!'|
|5. 25. Recitative (Obadiah, Elijah) - 'Man Of God, Now Let My Words Be Precious'|
|6. 26. Air (Elijah) - 'It Is Enough, O Lord'|
|7. 27. Recitative - 'See, Now He Sleepeth'|
|8. 28. Trio of Angels - 'Lift Thine Eyes'|
|9. 29. Chorus - 'He, Watching Over Israel'|
|10. 30. Recitative (Angel, Elijah)- 'Arise, Elijah'|
See all 23 tracks on this disc
But that isn't a reason to pass up this recording and I'm glad I bought it. Elijah is a star of the choral repertoire and this performance is very well done. Put away your old score and enjoy.
The changes in this text are not that great, but they are noticeable. Do I like them? Well, yes, but I have to admit while listening to the recording my mind always trails back to the familiar words.
There are a few things different about this recording than most. Firstly, there are not only four soloists, but nine of them. To some, with our tradition of having only four soloist, that may seem odd. It is not at odds with the original performance. In this oratorio, like many by Bach, there are soloists who are simple commentators, and some who are characters. We never had that distinction in other recordings. It is refreshing to hear it. Thus, we hear very different voices intone the "mother" and those who are just singing commentary (the first duet in the oratoria). It wasn't necessary to do this, and the oratorio works quite well if it is not done, but there is an added sense of drama, like we are witnessing a real story not just talking about it when we hear certain voices associated with certain people and events.
I found it delightful to listen to the good diction in English of some of the singers, though not all the women have good diction in English. I wonder why we tolerate bad diction in English but simply won't tolerate it in Italian or German? That is a very eternal question for me. I remember one of my own teachers saying that if a singer can't sing in their own language and make sense how can they really sing in a foreign one? Whether her conclusion was correct or not, I do know that with all the "Native English speaking singers" out there why so few of them have mastered diction in their own language. It would be wonderful if they had teachers wise enough to help they understand the pure Italian vowels they sing don't fit English where there is no such thing as a pure vowel. One singer who bad diction cannot be leveled at is Thomas Hampson. It is a real pleasure to hear him sing the Part of Elijah. I have an old recording of this oratorio with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Nicolai Gedda, Gwyneth Jones, and Janet Baker. Each of them sing English masterfully and clearly, no distortion, yet, only two of them are native English speakers. Gedda and Fischer-Dieskau have the most wonderful English, and one would think they really spoke the language from birth as it has no "foreign" sound to it at all. Thomas Hampson comes super close to having the same affect with his diction as Fischer-Dieskau, and filling the text with special meaning (as this fine German artist did). Sadly, the rest of the cast, though understood, simply doesn't have his mastery of "Their own language." I say that because everyone in this recording IS A NATIVE ENGLISH SPEAKER.
The quality of the singing is superb and it cannot be faulted. The orchestral presentation is masterful. The choral work is breathtaking, and with an oratorio like this, the chorus is what makes or breaks it far more than the soloists.
The quality of the recording is superb, though I wish the sound were more "full-bodied." I have this complaint about most digitally created CD's. The old Annalog recording method captured the brilliance and the depth of the music more completely. In digital music it seems the upper overtones are lost, but the "shrillness" of the high notes is not, and the depth and sonorous sound of the lower harmonics is not full or complete enough (and adding the "enhanced bass" setting does not give the reality of the depth to the sound). Having heard all the lead singers in life, I can tell you there is that special depth of tone, that richness that is part of their sound that simply is not there. One person who is really losing out in representation of her sound is Florence Quivar. Whatever her flaws in diction, her sound is rich and plummy, but you wouldn't know that listening to this recording. Even Thomas Hampson, though his voice is not a huge one, doesn't quite reflect his ability to resonate. His sound is very resonnant, very full, and it has a depth of emotion that is spine tingling. His voice caresses and invites the listener in. In some ways, it sounds like we are invited to listen in, but to stay out of the room in which he is singing. This is all the balance of the technicians. Wonderful as digital technology is, it still can't capture the human voice with all the nuances and overtones it has. I doubt any form of recording ever has, but it is missing some of the most important parts of it. The result of all this is a performance, wonderful as it is, that is lacking the amount of life it should have. One knows this is NOT the result of anything the performers or conductor are doing, for one can get that life if you play the recording quite loudly. The problem is, one shouldn't have to play it loudly to feel that.
Whether this is the best of the best, I couldn't say. It is a good recording and well worth adding to your library. The approach is different from the common way of doing things, and that adds a special refreshing touch to a work that is well known, and well performed.