Symphony No. 2 (Lobgesang) - Mendelssohn

Mendelssohn – Symphony No. 2 (Lobgesang) – Markus Stenz

The Radio Filharmonisch Orkest (Radio Philharmonic Orchestra; Dutch abbreviation RFO) plays Felix Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 2 in B-flat major, Op. 52, commonly known as Lobgesang (Hymn of Praise). Conductor: Markus Stenz.

Founded in 1945, The Radio Filharmonisch Orkest (Radio Philharmonic Orchestra; Dutch abbreviation RFO) is a Dutch radio orchestra, based in Hilversum. The RFO performs under the aegis of the Muziekcentrum van de Omroep (Broadcasting Music Centre; NMBC), an umbrella organization bringing together the music departments of the various broadcasting associations affiliated to Nederlandse Publieke Omroep (Dutch Public Broadcasting).

The RFO performs on Radio 4 (Netherlands) and gives public concerts in Amsterdam and Utrecht. It has also served as the orchestra for productions at De Nederlandse Opera.

Symphony No. 2 of Mendelssohn

Felix Mendelssohn, the re-discoverer of Bach, reflected in his Second Symphony in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, a long orchestral introduction is leading up to a large and festive choral composition. “Lobgesang ‘according Mendelssohn a universal hymn to the words of the last psalm: Everything that has breath praise the Lord.”

The composer’s description of the work was “A Symphony-Cantata on Words of the Holy Bible, for Soloists, Chorus and Orchestra”. It requires two sopranos and a tenor as soloists, along with a chorus and orchestra. It lasts almost twice as long as any of Mendelssohn’s other four symphonies.

Structurally, it consists of three purely orchestral movements followed by 11 movements for chorus and/or soloists and orchestra, and lasts approximately 65–70 minutes in total. The English titles of the 11 vocal movements are:

  1. All men, all things, all that have life and breath
  2. Praise ye the Lord O ye Spirit
  3. Sing ye Praise
  4. All ye that cried unto the Lord
  5. I waited for the Lord
  6. The Shadows of Death
  7. The Night is Departing
  8. Let all men praise the Lord
  9. My song shall be always Thy Mercy
  10. Ye nations, offer to the Lord.

Text (with English translation)

  1. Symphony
  2. Chorus and Soprano Solo
    Alles, was Odem hat, lobe den Herrn. (Psalm 150)

    Lobt den Herrn mit Saitenspiel, lobt ihn mit eurem Lied. (Psalm 33)

    Und alles Fleisch lobe seinen heiligen Namen. (Psalm 145)

    Lobe den Herrn, meine Seele, und was in mir ist, seinen heiligen Namen.
    Lobe den Herrn, meine Seele, und vergiß es nicht, was er dir Gutes getan. (Psalm 103)

    Everything that has breath praise the Lord. (Psalm 150)

    Praise the Lord with the lyre, praise him with your song. (Psalm 33)

    And let all flesh bless his holy name. (Psalm 145)

    Bless the Lord, O my soul, and that is within me , bless his holy name.
    Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not that he has done you good. (Psalm 103)

  3. Tenor Recitative and Aria
    Saget es, die ihr erlöst seid durch den Herrn,
    die er aus der Not errettet hat,
    aus schwerer Trübsal, aus Schmach und Banden,
    die ihr gefangen im Dunkel waret,
    alle, die er erlöst hat aus der Not.
    Saget es! Danket ihm und rühmet seine Güte! (Psalm 107)

    Er zählet unsre Tränen in der Zeit der Noth,
    er tröstet die Betrübten mit seinem Wort. (Psalm 56)

    Saget es! Danket ihm und rühmet seine Güte.

    Say it that you are redeemed by the Lord,
    he has delivered them out of trouble,
    of severe tribulation, from shame and bondage
    captives in the darkness,
    all which he hath redeemed from distress
    Say it! Give thanks to him and praise ye, His goodness! (Psalm 107)

    He numbers our tears tears in our time of need,
    he comforts the afflicted with his word. (Psalm 56)

    Say it! Give thanks to him and praise ye his kindness.

  4. Chorus
    Saget es, die ihr erlöset seid von dem Herrn aus aller Trübsal.
    Er zählet unsere Tränen in der Zeit der Noth.
    Say it that you are redeemed by the Lord out of all tribulation.
    He numbers our tears in out time of need.
  5. Soprano Duet and Chorus
    Ich harrete des Herrn, und er neigte sich zu mir und hörte mein Flehn.
    Wohl dem, der seine Hoffnung setzt auf den Herrn!
    Wohl dem, der seine Hoffnung setzt auf ihn! (Psalm 40)
    I waited patiently for the Lord, and He inclined to me and heard my supplication.
    Blessed is the man whose hope is in the Lord!
    Blessed is the man whose hope is in him! (Psalm 40)
  6. Tenor Aria and Recitative
    Stricke des Todes hatten uns umfangen,
    und Angst der Hölle hatte uns getroffen,
    wir wandelten in Finsternis. (Psalm 116)

    Er aber spricht: Wache auf! der du schläfst,
    stehe auf von den Toten, ich will dich erleuchten! (Ephesians 5:14)

    Wir riefen in der Finsternis: Hüter, ist die Nacht bald hin?
    Der Hüter aber sprach:
    Wenn der Morgen schon kommt, so wird es doch Nacht sein;
    wenn ihr schon fraget, so werdet ihr doch wiederkommen
    und wieder fragen: Hüter, ist die Nacht bald hin? (Isaiah 21:11–12)

    The sorrows of death encompassed us
    and fear of hell had struck us,
    We wandered in darkness. (Psalm 116)

    He saith, Awake! you who sleep,
    arise from the dead, I will enlighten you! (Ephesians 5:14)

    We called in the darkness, Watchman, will the night soon pass?
    But the Watchman said:
    if the morning comes soon, it will yet again be night;
    and if you ask, you will return
    and ask again, Watchman, will the night soon pass? (Isaiah 21:11–12)

  7. Chorus
    Die Nacht ist vergangen, der Tag aber herbei gekommen.
    So laßt uns ablegen die Werke der Finsternis,
    und anlegen die Waffen des Lichts,
    und ergreifen die Waffen des Lichts. (Romans 13:12)
    The night has passed, but the day has come.
    So let us cast off the works of darkness,
    and put on the armor of light,
    and take up the armor of light. (Romans 13:12)
  8. Chorale
    Nun danket alle Gott mit Herzen, Mund und Händen,
    der sich in aller Not will gnädig zu uns wenden,
    der so viel Gutes tut, von Kindesbeinen an
    uns hielt in seiner Hut und allen wohlgetan.

    Lob Ehr und Preis sei Gott, dem Vater und dem Sohne,
    und seinem heilgen Geist im höchsten Himmelsthrone.
    Lob dem dreiein’gen Gott, der Nacht und Dunkel schied
    von Licht und Morgenrot, ihm danket unser Lied. (Evangelisches Kirchengesangbuch; Text v. Martin Rinckart, 1636)

    Now let us all thank God with hearts and hands and voices,
    who in all adversity will be merciful to us,
    who does so much good, who from childhood
    has kept us in his care and done good to all.

    Praise, honor and glory be to God the Father, and the Son,
    and his Holy Spirit on heaven’s highest throne.
    Praise to God, three in one, who separated night and darkness
    from light and dawn, give thanks to him with our song. (Evangelical Church Hymnal, text Rinckart v. Martin, 1636)

  9. Soprano and Tenor Duet
    Drum sing ich mit meinem Liede ewig dein Lob, du treuer Gott!
    Und danke dir für alles Gute, das du an mir getan.
    Und wandl’ ich in der Nacht und tiefem Dunkel
    und die Feinde umher stellen mir nach,
    so rufe ich an den Namen des Herrn,
    und er errettet mich nach seiner Güte.
    So I sing your praises with my song forever , faithful God!
    And thank you for all the good you have done to me.
    Though I wander in night and deep darkness
    and enemies beset me all around
    I will call upon the name of the Lord,
    and he saved me by His goodness.
  10. Chorus
    Ihr Völker! bringet her dem Herrn Ehre und Macht!
    Ihr Könige! bringet her dem Herrn Ehre und Macht!
    Der Himmel bringe her dem Herrn Ehre und Macht!
    Die Erde bringe her dem Herrn Ehre und Macht! (Psalm 96)

    Alles danke dem Herrn!
    Danket dem Herrn und rühmt seinen Namen
    und preiset seine Herrlichkeit. (I Chronicles 16:8–10)

    Alles, was Odem hat, lobe den Herrn, Halleluja! (Psalm 150)

    You peoples! give unto the Lord glory and strength!
    You kings! give unto the Lord glory and strength!
    The sky will bring forth the Lord glory and strength!
    Let the earth bring forth the Lord glory and strength! (Psalm 96)

    All thanks to the Lord!
    Praise the Lord and exalt his name
    and praise his glory. (I Chronicles 16:8–10)

    Everything that has breath praise the Lord, Hallelujah! (Psalm 150)

Sources