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.
Elijah, Op. 70
Widow, Angel: Jacqueline Delman, soprano
Angel, Jezebel: Norma Procter, contralto
Obadiah, Ahab: George Maran, tenor
Elijah: Bruce Boyce, baritone
Youth: Michael Cunningham, treble
Hampstead Parish Church Boys’ Choir
(Chorus master: Martindale Sidwell)
London Philharmonic Choir
(Chorus master: Frederic Jackson)
London Philharmonic Orchestra
Ralph Downes, organ
FIRST INTERNATIONAL RELEASE ON CD
Recording Producer: James Walker
Recording Location: Kingsway Hall, London, UK, September 1954
‘Boyce sings the part with studied beauty, as indeed do all the other soloists, and the chorus is in excellent form. Josef Krips sets them some rapid tempi here and there, but the result is lively and interesting … plenty of orchestral detail even in the loud choruses … Norma Procter’s singing is always beautiful’ (Gramophone)
*** ‘Bruce Boyce, in this excellent recording, shows himself very much at home in Mendelssohn’s very literal use of “recitative”, and he is equally moving in conveying Elijah’s moments of doubt and disillusionment … Norma Procter sings with simply warmth. But the other main laurels must go to Josef Krips who directs such a refreshingly buoyant performance, untrammelled by the rather turgid Victorian style which haunts live performances of this work. Another happy decision in the making of these records was the use of the Hampstead Parish Church Boys’ Choir for the angels’ music. How beautifully they sing! And how good too is Michael Cunnigham, the solo boy soprano.’ The Record Guide