Mendelssohn: Elijah

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Born in Vienna in April 1902, the cheery-looking Josef Krips seems to have been pre-destined to achieve eminence in the Viennese classics. He recorded with both, the Wiener Philharmoniker and the key London orchestras for Decca in the 1940s, 50s and 60s and the interpretations have genuine expressive power while remaining devoid of exaggeration or affectation.

Mendelssohn's Elijah was premiered to great acclaim and was perhaps the greatest triumph of his lifetime and performances of the oratorio were attended by, among others, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. It became second in popularity to Handel's Messiah in English-speaking lands and elsewhere held its own in the choral repertoire. In the character of Elijah, Mendelssohn created a musical personality as comprehensive as any in 19th-century opera. The oratorio as a whole encompasses lofty choral outbursts, heartfelt sentiment, profundity and even humour. This recording, made at the end of the mono era in 1954, was long a benchmark for this work and at long last receives its first CD release on Decca.

The notes for this issue are by Tully Potter and it forms part of a series of reissues devoted to the art of Josef Krips.