Mendelssohn's hymn of mediocrity

A great performance by Bergen Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra of Mendelssohn's ‘Hymn of Praise’ can't disguise its flaws

Composer: Mendelssohn
Repertoire: Symphony No.2 (‘Lobgesang’)
Artists:  Soloists, Bergen Philharmonic Choir, Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra/Andrew Litton
Rating:   4/5
Genre: Vocal/Orchestral
Label: BIS BIS-SACD-1704

It doesn’t – or shouldn’t – take bicentenary celebrations to remind us that, when he was on form, Mendelssohn was a very good composer. The Violin Concerto, the Midsummer Night’s Dream music, the Octet: all magnificent. But time has not dealt kindly with the ‘Hymn of Praise’, a choral symphony constructed like Beethoven’s. It opens with a dotted motto theme that is all too pervasive, and much of the choral writing is pompous. The best-known number is the duet known in English as ‘I waited for the Lord’. This ‘live’ performance is well sung and recorded; but I’m not at all sure that the piece is worth it.