Performances conducted by Arthur Mendel

Recordings by Arthur Mendel, musicologist and editor for, and conductor of the music of Heinrich Schütz and Johann Sebastian Bach, are not to be found today on discs. My teacher, tenor William Hess, before he died, gave me reel-to-reel performances conducted by Mendel--to whom, Bill said, he owed everything he knew about music. These live performances are from the late 1940s-early 1950s. The reels were transferred to cassette tapes, and from these I’ve been making CDs. A complete set of reels, doubtless of better quality, had been given by Mendel and his wife to Princeton University. Until such time as these are taken from the archives and given proper attention, we are stuck with what I’ll have managed to produce. They are well worth listening to, recording flaws and all. All performances are with the Cantata Singers and Orchestra; soloists include Charlotte Bloecher and Janet Hayes, sopranos; Belvin Kibler and Pauline Price, altos; William Hess, tenor; and Paul Marthen, bass. Be warned that there are sometimes faulty tape entrances into the music, and that the sound is often poor. No texts. The CDs may be ordered by e-mail at They are fifteen dollars for each CD, including postage; checks may be made out to Schola Antiqua and mailed to R. John Blackley, 407 Spring Valley Road, Lexington, Virginia 24450.

M-I. Bach. Cantata 11, Lobet Gott in seinen Reichen (“Ascension Oratorio”). Cantata 12, Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen.

M-II. Bach. Cantata 171, Gott, wie dein Name. Cantata 46, Schauet doch und sehet. Cantata 71, Gott ist mein König.

M-III. Bach: Cantata 120, Gott, man lobt dich in der Stille. Handel: The Dettingen Te deum and the Overture to Agrippina.

M-IV. Bach: from the Mass in B-Minor: the Kyrie and Gloria. Magnificent; doubtless from a complete performance hopefully to be found in the Princeton archives. The Kyrie is unbelievably slow, its line long and unbroken, entirely right; it would drive most modern performers crazy. Both this movement and the Gloria follow the concertino vs tutti understanding, well anticipating that practice in Robert Shaw’s later LP performance.

Of this series, there remain the Matthew and John Passions and the Magnificat.

Between 1950 and 1952, R.E.B Editions 3, 9, and 10 containing works by Heinrich Schütz were issued on LP by Robert E. Blake of Rowayton, Connecticut. They were all directed by Arthur Mendel. They have been placed onto two CDs, with contents and performers as follows:

M-V. Weihnachts-Historie. The Cantata Singers and Orchestra. Obbligato instruments: violettas, Howard Boatwright and Rubin Decker; soprano recorders: Alfred Mann and Carolyn Mann; violins: Dorothy De Lay and C. Richard Adams; trombones: Gordon M. Pulis and Clifford J. Heather; trumpets: Theodore M. Weis and James H. Hustis; continuo: Nellis De Lay, Alfred Mann, J. Laurence Slater, and Harlan Laufman. Soloists: Charlotte Bloecher, soprano; William Hess, tenor; and Paul Matthen, bass.
Musicalische Exequien. Joan Brainerd and Charlotte Bloecher, sopranos; Pauline Pierce, alto; Arthur Squires and William Hess, tenors; Paul Matthen and Lee Cass, basses; Alfred Mann, bass viol; and John Beaven, organ.

M-VI. Kleine geistliche Concerte, with William Hess, tenor; Paul Matthen, bass-baritone; and John Beaven, organist. The works are Eile mich, Gott, zu erretten; Was hast du verwirket; O Jesu, nomen dulce; Ich danke dem herrn von ganzem Herzen; O süsser, o freundlichere; Ich liege und schlafe; O misericordissime Jesu; and Die Furcht des Herren.

The sound from these LPs are what one would expect from their age, though the quality in M-VI is clearer because there are fewer performers. All the interpretations are wonderful, with the Weinachts-Historie displaying a remakable sense of musical line. Both CDs have for their cover a picture of Arthur Mendel conducting seven of his singers in practice for a Christmas concert, taken from The New York Times for Sunday, December 14, 1952. (For ordering information, see above.)