Wednesday, May 12, 2010

James R. Oestreich on "Elijah"

"Elijah may or may not have graced your Passover Seder last week, but he put in a vivid appearance at Carnegie Hall on Monday night. Or at least the trappings were vivid, as Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos conducted the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Tanglewood Festival Chorus and a formidable cast of vocal soloists in Mendelssohn’s grand oratorio 'Elijah.' The eminence absent here was James Levine, who missed the performances in Boston and New York because of lower-back problems, soon to be treated surgically. But Mr. Levine left his mark on the performance as one of the few conductors able to attract so many Metropolitan Opera stars, like the soprano Christine Brewer, the mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe, the tenor Anthony Dean Griffey (a late substitute) and the bass-baritone Shenyang. … The Tanglewood Festival Chorus, 147 strong, is celebrating its 40th anniversary under its founding conductor, John Oliver. … [T]hese singers were even freer than the vocal soloists to throw themselves into frenzied action. … Mr. Frühbeck, a veteran of broad experience, made a classic recording of 'Elijah' in 1968 and obviously knows it cold" ("Music Review," New York Times, 4/7/10).


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