‘Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!’ Mendelssohn’s inspirational Symphony No 2, Lobgesang (Hymn of Praise), is a monumental work for orchestra, choir and vocal soloists. Written to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the invention of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg, it was premièred in St Thomas’ Leipzig in 1840, the same church where JS Bach spent the crowning years of his career. Rich in orchestral, choral and cultural traditions – Beethoven’s Symphony No 9 was another influence – Mendelssohn’s great, celebratory symphony is a grand and enthralling experience.
It’s hard to overestimate the influence of Weber’s Romantic opera Der Freischütz (in our own time, it inspired Tom Waits’ music theatre work The Black Rider). A morality tale loaded with eerie Gothic touches and heavy doses of the supernatural, Der Freischütz mixes simple and charming melodies with dazzling and imaginative orchestration. This concert showcases some of the highlights.