One of the most grown-up review sites around
One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here


International mailing

Up to 40% off

  Founder: Len Mullenger

Some items
to consider

£11 post-free anywhere

Special Offer
Complete Chopin
17 discs
Pre-order for £100


100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas

Works for Voice by György Kurtág


Best Seller

Symphony for solo piano

Chopin Piano Concerto No.1

Schubert Piano sonata

Schubert symphony No. 9

Katherine Watson (Sop)

From Severn to Somme


We are currently offering in excess of 52,000 reviews

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS

Arnold MENDELSSOHN (1855 – 1933)
Christmas Motets (1923/4); Deutsche Messe (1923)
Deutsche Messe, Op.89 (German Mass for 8-part Choir a cappella and soloists) [28:12]
Träufelt, ihr Himmel, von oben (Advents-Motette Op.90/5) (Drop down dew, ye heavens) [13:48]
Lobt Gott, ihr Christen (Motette zum Weihnachtsfest Op.90/9) (Praise God, ye Christians) [13:53]
Siehe! Finsternis decket das Erdreich (Motette zum Epiphaniasfest Op.90/10) (Behold! Darkness shall cover the Earth) [10:13]
SWR Vokalensemble Stuttgart/Frieder Bernius
rec. SWR Studio, Stuttgart, Germany, 26 September, 2008, 20 February, 2009, 25-6 June, 2009, 10-11 December 2009 and 12-13 January 2011. DSD
Booklet with texts and translations included

Experience Classicsonline

A shorter version of this review appeared in my 2012/21 Download News.
Although, understandably, some of the online suppliers are emphasising the Christmas content, Hänssler themselves have been much more restrained, resisting the temptation to use a Christmas-card type of cover in favour of a plain background to match other releases from the SWR Vokalensemble: Bruckner (93.199), Elliott Carter (93.231) and Villa-Lobos (93.268). In fact its value lies just as much in offering the only current recording of the Deutsche Messe or German Mass – the only one that I remember, though it has plenty to offer.
Look twice at the name of the composer before buying. Arnold Mendelssohn was the son of the nephew of Felix Mendelssohn, though he never knew his more famous uncle. He spent most of his life in the service of the Protestant church and, if the music here is typical, did well in that service. The German Mass which opens the recording owes much to his interest in earlier musical forms – I hear the influence of Schütz, for example, of whose St Matthew Passion and St John Passion I see that he and Philipp Spitta made performing editions, as well as the more obvious J.S. Bach – but he is completely his own man. His great-uncle’s* music, too, was clearly an influence and, while I can’t claim that he deserves to be as well known – as, for example, Giovanni Gabrieli does in relation to his uncle Andrea – he equally doesn’t deserve to be so little known.
I don’t know how often this Deutsche Messe is employed in Lutheran services but it wouldn’t come amiss for Anglican and Roman Catholic cathedral and collegiate choirs to perform all or parts of it – probably the Ehre sei Gott, for example, could be sung to an adaptation of the (prosaic) modern English translation of the Gloria used by both. If you’re doubtful about liking it and you have access to the Naxos Music Library, try it for yourself there – you’ll even find the booklet.
In earlier Lutheran tradition the Kyries and Gloria in excelsis were usually sung in Latin, especially on festal occasions, as in Bach’s short masses, but by Arnold Mendelssohn’s time all the parts of the common of the mass were sung in German. One peculiarity of the words which he sets in his Deutsche Messe is that the Sanctus is prefaced by the words of Isaiah which describe how the three-fold praise was sung by the seraphim before the Lord, as witnessed by the prophet ‘in the year that King Uzziah died’. In addition to the traditional common texts, Mendelssohn rounds off his setting with a Schlußgesang or final hymn of benediction.
The Op. 90 motets contain music for the whole church year – Op.90/1, for example, is for passiontide – the three chosen for inclusion here are for Advent, Christmas and Epiphany. Op.90/5 sets the German translation of the traditional Advent prose, Rorate cœli, drop down your dew, ye heavens, here rather awkwardly translated as ‘sprinkle from above, ye heavens’ and contains the traditional chorale Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, come now, Saviour of the nations. Op.90/9 for Christmas begins with a Lutheran chorale, Praise God ye Christians all together, continues with another chorale which leads into the song of the angels, Glory to God in the highest, and also includes the well-known chorale Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern, so there’s plenty of opportunity for the congregation to get involved. Op.90/10, for Epiphany, includes a German version of the compline hymn Nunc dimittis and again concludes with a chorale for the whole congregation.
Performances and recording do Arnold Mendelssohn’s music justice – the former almost a given with Frieder Bernius at the helm. I listened to the CD track and the stereo SACD track but can’t vouch for the 5.1 surround sound. The booklet contains helpful notes about the composer and the music.
If you’re looking for more music by Arnold Mendelssohn, there’s a Cantate recording of more of the Op.90 Geistliche Chormusik – Nos.1, 4, 5, 6 and 11, so only one work overlapping with the Hänssler recording. (CAN58005 [67:24]). There’s another Christmas Arnold Mendelssohn work, Markt und Straßen steh’n verlassen on an Ars Produktion CD, A late-romantic Christmas Eve (ARS38086) which John Sheppard recommended as full of seasonal delights – review.
To return in summation to the new SACD, it’s a delight – attractive music, constructed with a craftsmanship worthy of Arnold Mendelssohn’s more famous forebear, in excellent performances and well recorded.
* as between the German and English texts of the Hänssler notes there’s some confusion about the relationship, with Neffe zweiten Grades rendered as ‘second cousin’ and Onkel as ‘uncle’. Strictly, I suppose, Felix was his great-uncle, but I’m not sure what the German for that relationship is; ein grosser Onkel is a big toe. My Austrian friend was little help – he doesn’t seem to be big on relationships. Though his German remains first-class – he’s just re-reading the Middle High German Nibelungenlied – when he visits his apartment in Austria all the locals insist on speaking to him in English.
Brian Wilson


































































Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.