Reviving Mendelssohn’s Revival

St Matthew Passion, Queen Elizabeth Hall, London
By Richard Fairman [Financial Times, 9 Feb 05]
On March 11 1829 a marker was set down in musical history, when the 20-year-old Mendelssohn realised an ambition to give the first performance in “modern” times of Bach’s St Matthew Passion – a scheme dismissed by his elders as the fantasy of a couple of “snotty-nosed brats”.
There have been times when Roger Norrington has upset the traditionalists, too. Throughout the 1980s his “Experience” weekends regularly overturned received wisdom about how the great musical works of the past should be performed. It was fitting that he should follow in Mendelssohn’s footsteps by reviving in turn his version of the St Matthew Passion in a rare re-creation of that 1829 Berlin performance.
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