With this concert we continue a series begun in 2010, in which we perform church music by Mendelssohn on period instruments. Undeservedly, these are works which are played only rarely or even largely forgotten. Following the performances of Elijah, St Paul and his choral cantatas, tonight's programme has been selected to span the majority of the composer's short career of just 24 years. The first work, Kyrie in D minor, was written in Paris by way of introduction to Cherubini when Mendels...sohn was just 16 years old. On the other end of the scale, he was 37 when he composed the last piece to be heard, Lauda Sion. This unparalleled masterpiece remains the composer's final completed oratorio, but remained in the shadow of Elijah, which was also conceived and premièred at around the same time. This is likely to be the first occasion that Lauda Sion has ever been performed in full in Hungary.
Conceived over more than two decades, these six works reveal an unparalleled stylistic richness that presents the listener with a kaleidoscope of a European music history: the Kyrie in D minor and Nicht unserm Namen, Herr evoke mainly Bach and Mozart, Tu es Petrus primarily Palestrina, and Herr Gott, dich loben wir the style of Schütz. Yet, of course, all these workds are richly infused with the absolute genius of Mendelssohn. This fantastic ability of the composer to integrate the musical influences he encountered is not a weakness of the "Mendelssohn- style'. On the contrary, it is its essence and strength. (It is worth quoting at this juncture Mendelssohn's letter to a friend of 1831, in which he discusses the influence of Bach: 'If [my work] bears similarity to [Johann]Sebastian Bach, again, I cannot do anything about it, for I wrote it just according to the mood I was in, and if the words put me in a mood similar to that of old Bach, so much the better. I am sure you do not think that I would merely copy his forms, without the content; for if it were so, I should feel such distaste, and such emptiness, that I could never again ﬁnish a piece.')
The Lauda Sion - which for me is one of the finest compositions of 19th century Catholic mysticism - is a summation of the preceding styles, and at the same time a firm step forward towards the grand Romantic tradition, and not just of German music. Its tone unambiguously foreshadows the music of Brahms, Bruckner, Wagner and Liszt, but also Verdi's requiems. I hope our listeners will agree that this 30-minute masterpiece aptly represents everything uplifting and worthy of wonder in Mendelssohn's art.” (György Vashegyi)
Presented by: Sysart Kft. - Orfeo Foundation
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