High-calibre performance of a classic
GRIMSBY Philharmonic Society's performance of Mendelssohn's Elijah prompted a rapturous response and enthusiastic cheers from a delighted audience.
The composer encountered a similar reaction when conducting his first performance of this oratorio at Birmingham in 1846.
It quickly became one of the most popular oratorios of the 19th century, second only to Handel's Messiah, though somewhat falling out of fashion during the last century.
Elijah is an epic and dramatic biblical portrayal of the Old Testament prophet as he summons the people to righteousness, performs miracles, and struggles against idol worshipping.
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It embraces his confrontation with the wicked queen Jezebel and concludes with Elijah's rise to heaven in a fiery chariot as he passes his mantle to the prophet Elisha.
Under Susan Hollingworth's direction, the "Phil" sounded tremendous in the big choruses such as Yet doth the Lord see it not, Baal, we cry to thee and Be not afraid.
The calibre of the three principal guest soloists, Sara Ogden (soprano), Alexandria Wynn (mezzo-soprano) and Sean Byes (tenor) was superb and they sang with great articulation.
Equally, Lyle McNally (treble), the 15-year-old Head Chorister from Grimsby Minster, did not disappoint.
However, in many respects, the night belonged to bass-baritone Louis Hurst, in the title role of Elijah, who exposed us to a dramatic performance imbued with a range of emotions.
Mendelssohn scored this oratorio for a large orchestra, thus presenting a challenge for organist Anthony Pinel, but one to which he rose admirably, deservedly receiving the audience's appreciation.