The season opening of the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center and the Jerusalem
Symphony Orchestra’s Liturgical Series was Mendelssohn’s Elijah, conducted by
In this oratorio Mendelssohn portrays not only the furious
idealist-prophet, but focuses pointedly on the human tragedy of the
un-understood and mistreated fighter for moral justice. As such, the work
represents what Thomas Mann later called the “Humanization of the Mythos”.
Mendelssohn’s notable emotional empathy with the Biblical subject seems,
perhaps, to reveal his Jewish roots, more than his rather formal and detached
Christian oratorio St. Paul.
The performance’s astonishing surprise was
Christoph Pregardien in the title role. World-famous as one of today’s
celebrated tenors, he performed Elijah with a dark-timbred, sonorous, superbly
expressive baritone, just as the role demands – or even more so. He did not act
his part, but actually was Elijah. His complete identification with the prophet
conveyed his rage intensely and convincingly, yet also his profound despair and
humility, movingly expressed in his aria “It is enough, I am not better than my
fathers” – one of Mendelssohn’s unrivaled masterpieces.
clear soprano soared radiantly over choir and orchestra, but was theatrical more
than oratoria- like. Her “Hear ye, Israel” sounded like an opera aria, not a
prayer. Alison Browner’s warm alto caressed the melodies softly and
Markus Schafer displayed an appealing lyrical
The Limburg Dom Boys Choir was a main hero of the performance. It
produced a rich, full sound, perfect balance, abundant nuances of dynamics,
exciting involvement, exact enunciation, and forceful as well as delicate
expression. Its fierce “Give us answer” sounded demanding, especially when
followed by the eloquent silence of the non-answer. The sopranos and altos’
“Lift thine eyes” sounded as angelic as one always hopes but only seldom hears.
The choir’s majestic rendition of Fiery chariot and fiery horses left no doubt
as to what was happening when Elijah ascended to heaven.
poignantly emphasized the dramatic events and contrasting emotions.
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