Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra

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Vaughan Williams: Job & Symphony No. 9

Vaughan Williams: Job & Symphony No. 9


Vaughan Williams:

Job - A Masque for Dancing

Symphony No. 9 in E minor


Read Presto's complete review of this disc here

The projected complete cycle of Vaughan Williams’s symphonies started by the late Richard Hickox has left a precious heritage in the discography of the composer.

Now, conducting the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, that other expert in British repertoire, Sir Andrew Davis, takes on the challenge of completing the series with idiomatic interpretations of two masterpieces: the final Symphony (No. 9) and the ballet Job.

The score of Job places an emphasis on tableau-like scenes, dances, and mime, linking it to a tradition of English ballet with dances from the seventeenth century, including the saraband, pavane, and galliard. In this masterly score, Vaughan Williams captures the conflict between good and evil, between the spiritual and the material. Job shows a strength, beauty, nobility, and visionary power which unite the many different facets of Vaughan Williams’s musical style. The poignant and musically enigmatic Symphony No. 9 marks ‘the end of Ralph’s life and [is] a turning point. It is leading out into another place. It is extraordinary’, as the composer’s wife stated after one of the early performances.

The subtle direction of Sir Andrew Davis combined with the pure sound quality of this SACD does full justice to Hickox’s great enterprise and promises a powerful conclusion of this already acclaimed recorded cycle.

“a performance of striking composure, lustre and palpable dedication. Not only do the Bergen Philharmonic respond with notable poise and eagerness (solo contributions are of the highest quality throughout), Davis conducts with unobtrusive authority as well as a sure hand on the structural tiller, uncovering a wealth of telling harmonic and textural detail along the way.” Gramophone Magazine, March 2017

“Davis, vastly experienced as a conductor of this composer, is every bit as idiomatic as the score’s dedicatee and finds the Bergen Philharmonic in virtuoso and sensitive form.” classicalsource.com

“While the loss of Hickox was, and remains, a huge loss to fans of this music, there could be no finer conductor to receive the baton than Andrew Davis...Davis seems to avoid some of Handley’s showmanship – giving less of a punch to some of the more impassioned outbursts – but conversely there’s a clarity here in some of the more intricate contrapuntal passages that Handley sometimes fails to match.” David Smith, Presto Classical, 10th February 2017

“A mandatory purchase for all Vaughan Williams enthusiasts.” MusicWeb International, 1st March 2017

“The versatile Bergen band clearly revel in the expansive, unmistakably “English” tunes and the sometimes exotic orchestration...Davis today has no peers in this repertoire, which, added to Chandos’s brilliantly “present” sound engineering, makes this a self-recommending issue.” Sunday Times, 19th March 2017

“a searing performance of the enigmatic ninth symphony…Even better, though, is Job: a tremendous, Blake-inspired score whose challenges are triumphantly met here. It is one of Vaughan Williams’ most dramatic works and the sheer power of the Bergen forces (that organ!) contrast perfectly with sections of great textual beauty. Superb SACD sound” Classical Music, April 2017 *****

Presto Disc of the Week

10th February 2017

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - March 2017

BBC Music Magazine

Recording of the month - April 2017

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Sibelius: In the Stream of Life

Sibelius: In the Stream of Life

Songs by Sibelius


Sibelius:

Pohjola's Daughter, Op. 49

In the Stream of Life

Seven Songs orch. E. Rautavaara. Premiere recording

Koskenlaskijan morsiamet (The Rapids-Rider’s Brides), Op. 33

Romance in C major for strings, Op. 42

Hymn to Thaïs (Text: Arthur H. Borgström)

Demanten på marssnön, Op. 36 No. 6 (Wecksell)

Hertig Magnus, Op. 57 No. 6

The Oceanides, Op. 73

På verandan på vid havet, Op. 38 No. 2 (Viktor Runeberg)

I natten, Op. 38 No. 3

Kom nu hit, Död, Op. 60 No. 1 (Bertel Gripenberg after Shakespeare)


Read Presto's complete review of this disc here

The exceptional collaboration and friendship between the late Einojuhani Rautavaara and the internationally acclaimed bass-baritone Gerald Finley culminates in this unique album of orchestral songs by Sibelius, on which the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra is conducted by Edward Gardner.

The album offers orchestrations, by Sibelius and others, of songs which Sibelius originally wrote for voice and piano, and includes the premiere recording of In the Stream of Life, seven songs orchestrated by Rautavaara for his friend. Throughout, the poetry perfectly reflects the instinctively felt relation between Finnish nature and Sibelius’s music.

As Finley reveals: ‘the recording of [In the Stream of Life] became a very personal project when the sessions took place only a few weeks after [Rautavaara’s] death, in the same week as his funeral... and I am so thankful that a final addition was made possible when in the last months of his life [Rautavaara] agreed to orchestrate “Hjärtats morgon” and include it in the group.’

“Rautavaara's orchestrations are so convincingly Sibelian that on first hearing I completely forgot I wasn't listening to the The Real Thing...Finley is in magnificent voice throughout: though it's relatively uncommon to find non-Finnish singers tackling this repertoire, he seems completely at home with both the sound-world and the texts.” Katherine Cooper, Presto Classical, 30th December 2016

“Finley sings them all with his usual finesse and careful shading, reserving his full power for the few genuinely climactic moments...The subtle, respectful orchestrations wrap around his voice like a glove...Gardner and his orchestra include very fine performances of three orchestral works.” The Guardian, 4th January 2017 ****

“The measured beauty of Gerald Finley’s singing in subdued songs conjures impressive wintry vistas” Financial Times, January 2017

“An impressive if idiosyncratic programme” Gramophone Magazine, February 2017

“these new versions perfectly capture and amplify the spirit of Sibelius’s songs. Gerald Finley, a close friend of Rautavaara, makes an ideal case for the new settings, and his approach to the Swedish language of the texts is flowing and lyrical.” Classical Ear, 16th February 2017

“This haunting disc is as much a tribute to the Canadian singer’s close friendship with the late Finnish composer Einojuhani Rautavaara as it is a declaration of love for Sibelius’s songs...Dark and brooding, they are a fitting memorial.” Sunday Times, 19th February 2017

“A disc of songs and orchestral works for all devotees of Sibelius.” MusicWeb International, 3rd March 2017

“a highly memorable disc.” BBC Music Magazine, May 2017 ****

Presto Disc of the Week

30th December 2016

GGramophone Awards 2017

Shortlisted - Solo Vocal

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Chandos - CHSA5178

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Prokofiev: Symphonies Nos. 4 & 7

Prokofiev: Symphonies Nos. 4 & 7


Prokofiev:

Symphony No. 4 in C major, Op. 112 (revised version)

Symphony No. 7 in C sharp minor, Op. 131

includes also finale with alternative ending


There is nothing unusual about a composer returning to a major work, however, among such works Sergei Prokofiev's Fourth Symphony is a unique case in that it exists in two such different versions that the composer considered them quite separate works and gave each its own opus number. Composed in 1929–30, the first version, Op. 47, met with lukewarm response at its Boston and European premières. In 1947 Prokofiev decided to return to the symphony, producing not so much a revision as a complete reworking of the original material. The differences between the versions are too many to detail, but the main point is that the 1947 version, given the opus number 112, is a much bigger and more ambitious score. Some four years later Prokofiev began work on what would become his last major work, Symphony No. 7 in C sharp minor. The composer announced that he aimed at simplicity and was writing ‘a symphony for children’, a statement that was possibly influenced by the fact that in 1948 had was accused of ‘formalism’ by the Soviet authorities. In any case, there is nothing childish – or simple – about the work. After the first performance, Prokofiev was persuaded to change the ending, adding a more upbeat and optimistic twenty-bar alternative to the original coda. Both endings are included on the present recording, giving listeners the opportunity to judge the very different effect each makes. The disc is the third instalment in a Prokofiev cycle from Andrew Litton and the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra.

“Litton’s already fine championship of the composer scales new heights…[his] mastery shows in the immediate contrasts of broad, epic opening and razor sharp Allegro mechanics [in the Fourth]…[in the Seventh there are] handsome, songful breadth and sheer naughtiness in equal proportions, with heartbreakingly beautiful solos from the Bergen woodwind” BBC Music Magazine, Christmas 2016 *****

“Andrew Litton’s disc arguably trumps them all. A consistently underrated maestro, he gets great results from the orchestra of which he is now conductor laureate” Gramophone Magazine, November 2016

“Two fine accounts of Prokofiev symphonies in excellent sound.” MusicWeb International, 2nd December 2016

BBC Music Magazine

Orchestral Choice

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BIS - BIS2134

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Schoenberg: Gurrelieder

Schoenberg: Gurrelieder


Alwyn Mellor (soprano), Anna Larsson (mezzo-soprano), Stuart Skelton (tenor), Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke (tenor), James Creswell (bass) & Sir Thomas Allen (speaker)

Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, Bergen Philharmonic Choir, Choir of Collegiûm Mûsicûm, Edvard Grieg Kor, Orphei Drängar, Students from the Royal Northern College of Music, Edward Gardner

Recorded live on SACD in the sumptuous acoustic of Grieghallen in Bergen, this mind-blowing interpretation of Schoenberg’s Gurre-Lieder involves 350 performers: large choral forces, six exceptional soloists, and the legendary Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra – extended for the occasion – all conducted by Edward Gardner.

Marking the pinnacle of the Orchestra’s 250th anniversary celebrations, the same forces offered two evening concerts that met with unanimous acclaim in the press, including a five-star review from The Daily Telegraph praising the ‘sweep of Gardner's conducting, by turns luminous and incisive’. It added, ‘He unleashed the piece’s volcanic passions while never becoming mired in its high-calorific density, and somehow avoided drowning the singers’, and also congratulated the ‘heroic’ Stuart Skelton, ‘warm’ Alwyn Mellor, ‘ethereal’ Anna Larsson, and ‘powerful’ Thomas Allen.

“Gardner’s grasp of scale and momentum is as strong as Stenz’s, and his cast is more balanced...Gardner has the thrillingly heroic Stuart Skelton in the work’s most prominent solo part, pouring out his love for Tove in ringing tones...The playing and singing of Gardner’s Bergen forces are as intoxicating as any I know on disc.” Sunday Times, 23rd October 2016

“The playing of the Bergen Philharmonic is rich, seductive and sensuous...Gardner’s operatic experience means he’s alive to the lyricism and drama of the piece in equal measure: there’s ardent longing aplenty and a real willingness to explore the sheer gorgeousness of the score.” Gramophone Magazine, October 2016

“although this account was recorded over four days, it rolls onwards with the dynamism of a single live performance...for luminous atmosphere and edge-of-the-seat excitement, Gardner’s Bergen forces offer something special.” The Times, 30th September 2016 ****

“The hero is Edward Gardner, under whose wonderfully flexible beat this hyper-Romantic music positively breathes in long lyrical phrases and paragraphs. Nor are the excitements lacking: the coda to the Klaus episodes fizzes with crazy virtuosity and the final sunrise is as grandly summatory as any” BBC Music Magazine, Christmas 2016 *****

“There is an amplitude of tonal richness, against which Alwyn Mellor and Stuart Skelton sing on a heroic scale” Financial Times, 2nd December 2016

“A top class performance and magnificent recording of this vast piece.” MusicWeb International, 20th January 2017

Presto Discs of 2016

Finalist

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - October 2016

Building a Library

Also Recommended - March 2017

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Janacek: Orchestral Works Vol. 3

Janacek: Orchestral Works Vol. 3


Janacek:

Glagolitic Mass

Sara Jakubiak (soprano), Susan Bickley (mezzo-soprano), Stuart Skelton (tenor), Gábor Bretz (bass) & Thomas Trotter (organ)

Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, Bergen Philharmonic Choir & Choir of Collegiûm Mûsicûm

Adagio for Orchestra

Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra

Zdravas Maria

Sara Jakubiak (soprano), David Stewart (violin), Karstein Askeland (organ)

Edvard Grieg Kor & Bergen Cathedral Choir

Otcenáš (Our Father) for four-part choir, tenor soloist, organ and harp

Stuart Skelton (tenor), Johannes Wik (harp), Karstein Askeland (organ)

Edvard Grieg Kor & Bergen Cathedral Choir


Not only does this collection of orchestral works by Janáček follow two highly praised volumes with such great soloists as Jean-Efflam Bavouzet and James Ehnes, but it also features one of the composer’s most monumental works – with the vividly admired organist Thomas Trotter – along with three contrasting shorter pieces.

The Glagolitic Mass is considered his finest non-operatic work. It was premiered a year after the Sinfonietta – recorded in Volume 1 [CHSA5142] – to critical acclaim. This impressive piece makes full use of the orchestra and chorus, with virtuosic solo parts for tenor and soprano, as well as organ. It is set within a frame of purely orchestral movements in which the Bergen Orchestra and its new Chief Conductor, Edward Gardner, demonstrate with authority their deep empathy with the repertoire.

The album is completed by three highly diverse characteristic works: the mournful Adagio, the Slavonic Otče náš and the deeply personal Zdrávas Maria.

“Gardner steers the clash of brass, strings, chorus and soloists with confidence, the instrumental outer movements ablaze with excitement, the whole well balanced but still dangerous and invigorating.” The Guardian, 6th March 2016 ****

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Chandos Janacek: Orchestral Works - CHSA5165

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Saint-Saëns: Cello Concertos Nos. 1 & 2

Saint-Saëns: Cello Concertos Nos. 1 & 2

and other works


Saint-Saëns:

Cello Concerto No. 1 in A minor, Op. 33

Truls Mørk (cello)

Cello Concerto No. 2 in D minor, Op. 119

Truls Mørk (cello)

Le carnaval des animaux

Louis Lortie (piano), Hélène Mercier (piano) & Alasdair Malloy (glass harmonica)

Africa - Fantasie for piano & orchestra Op. 89

Louis Lortie (piano)

Wedding Cake - Valse-Caprice for piano & strings, Op. 76

Louis Lortie (piano)


The Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra and Neeme Järvi present this unusual collection of popular works by Saint-Saëns, for orchestra and piano or cello.

Truls Mørk, this season Artist in Residence with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, is the soloist in the two contrasted cello concertos. His ‘seemingly flawless technical command’ is tested in the suave, expressive, famous No. 1 as well as in the many taxing solo passages, huge leaps, and double-stopping flourishes of No. 2.

The indefatigable duo Louis Lortie and Hélène Mercier join in the posthumously published Carnival of the Animals, after a highly successful recording of Concertos by Poulenc with Edward Gardner, Disc of the Week in The Sunday Times. They offer the original version, which features a glass harmonica (normally substituted by a glockenspiel). Louis Lortie is also the soloist in the entertaining fantasia Africa, which incorporates folk tunes of the different countries in which it was composed and which is brought off with consummate zest, as well as in the most characteristic and probably challenging of the composer’s keyboard pieces, the Caprice-Valse Wedding-cake, written for the second wedding of the composer’s virtuosic pianist friend Caroline Montigny-Rémaury.

“This is one of those recordings where it seems invidious to look for faults and which just encourages you to sit back, relax, listen and wallow. Mørk brings his characteristic incisiveness and mountain-spring tone to the concertos...The Grande fantaisie zoologique receives one of its most successful performances on disc (sans narrator) with just the right balance of instrumental virtuosity, sensitive musicianship and, where the opportunity presents itself, fun.” Gramophone Magazine, January 2016

“[Mørk's] noble command is ideal in the darkly blazing, virtuosic second concerto. One of our great lyric instrumentalists, he gives a deeply-felt, but never over-dramatised performance, a piercing tenderness underlying what can sound sentimental in the hands of a lesser artist. Bergen's beautifully-tuned winds create subtle intimacy in the idyllic Andante” BBC Music Magazine, March 2016 ****

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - January 2016

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Rachmaninov: Symphony No. 2

Rachmaninov: Symphony No. 2

The Official 250th Anniversary Release of The Bergen Philharmonic


Liadov:

The Enchanted Lake, Op. 62

Rachmaninov:

Symphony No. 2 in E minor, Op. 27


Since his appointment as chief conductor and later music director in 2003, Andrew Litton and the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra have richly proven a particular affinity for Russian repertoire, both on their numerous tours and in recording. Works by Prokofiev, Stravinsky, Rachmaninov, Tchaikovsky, Medtner and Scriabin have featured on discs that have garnered much critical acclaim. Marking the occasion of Litton’s departure is this rendition of Sergei Rachmaninov's gigantic Second Symphony, with its playing time of 60+ minutes as broad and expansive as the Russian steppes. The work followed upon a first symphony which in 1897 had had a disastrous reception, and it took the intensely self-critical Rachmaninov ten years before making another attempt at the genre. Fortunately the first performance of the work in 1908 was a complete success, the broad melodic gestures and the arduous journey from the brooding melancholy of the symphony’s introduction to the triumphant liberation at its close speaking directly to the St Petersburg audience. Later criticism of the symphony’s broad scale prompted Rachmaninov to sanction several cuts, however, and it was only in the mid-1960s that it became common practice to perform the symphony complete – as in the present recording. Rachmaninov is joined on the disc by his older colleague Anatoly Liadov, whose brief and shimmering tone poem The Enchanted Lake provides an atmospheric ending to the recording – in the words of Liadov himself – an image of nature, as ‘fantastic as a fairy tale’, in which the listener will feel ‘the change of the colours, the chiaroscuro, the incessantly changeable stillness…’

“Rachmaninov’s Second Symphony is often accused of being gargantuan, schmaltzy and overblown. In Andrew Litton’s new recording with the Bergen Philharmonic, it sounds gargantuan, schmaltzy – and just blown enough, if you like your Rachmaninov big and extrovert.” The Guardian, 26th November 2015 ****

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Prokofiev: Symphony No. 5

Prokofiev: Symphony No. 5


Prokofiev:

Symphony No. 5 in B flat major, Op. 100

Scythian Suite, Op. 20


“In many ways, it is typical Litton: wholesome and unguarded, often good fun and refreshing in repertoire that’s customarily loaded with innuendo. There’s great momentum and some nice colour from the Bergen orchestra, but whether the performance works for you will depend on just how pummelled you want to be by your wartime Prokofiev.” The Guardian, 22nd May 2015 ***

“Litton is not usually a conductor prone to interpretative extremes and…there is little to criticise and much to admire…the Bergen orchestra's brittle winds and relatively gritless sonority may disappoint those who consider a darker, thicker kind of sound de rigeur in this music but you get to hear piano lines usually buried and well-defined percussion” Gramophone Magazine, June 2015

“this is one of the finest performances of the Fifth that I can recall hearing...excellent and idiomatic playing by Litton and his Bergen orchestra…I hope Andrew Litton will continue to record Prokofiev in Bergen.” MusicWeb International, May 2015

“Andrew Litton…supported by the Bergen Philharmonic's superbly responsive playing, brings weight and expressive intensity to the big climaxes without sacrificing the music's momentum. His careful attention to orchestra detail highlights interesting textural aspects of Prokofiev's orchestration often overlooked in other performances” BBC Music Magazine, August 2015

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BIS - BIS2124

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Janáček: Orchestral Works, Vol. 2

Janáček: Orchestral Works, Vol. 2


Janacek:

Jealousy (original prelude to Jenufa)

The Fiddler's Child

Melina Mandozzi (violin)

Taras Bulba

The Ballad of Blaník

The Danube, symphonic poem

Susanna Andersson (soprano)

Violin Concerto 'Pilgrimage of the Soul'

James Ehnes (violin)


This is the second volume in our series devoted to the orchestral works of Janáček, with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra and Edward Gardner.

The repertoire on this disc includes some of the greatest programmatic pieces by the composer. Unsurprisingly, the first piece featured here is Jealousy – his first declared piece of programme music, originally written to preface the opera Jenůfa but never included in any production of it during his lifetime. Both The Ballad of Blaník and The Fiddler’s Child (also known as a ‘ballad for orchestra’) are characterised by the use of musicals symbols, reflecting the Czech poems on which the pieces are based and also some of the composer’s personal reflections and responses.

The one-movement Violin Concerto The Wandering of a Little Soul is a more mysterious piece, with uncertainties surrounding the title, the date of creation, and the goals of its composition. Like the unfinished Danube symphony, the version recorded here has been reconstructed by Miloš Štědroň and Leoš Faltus from Janáček’s sketches.

An interpretation of the famous tale by Gogol, Taras Bulba was completed in 1915 and was Janáček’s most substantial orchestral work to date. It is inflected with folk dances, battle and horse-riding music, suffering and love, and brought to a grandiloquent apotheosis, in orchestration of almost cinematic vividness.

“Gardner’s survey with the Bergen Phil taps into his boundless, brazen invention; that uniquely Janáčekian blend of rustic and caustic...Ehnes is a steely, forthright soloist in the Violin Concerto, and the Bergen players offer clean, mercurial momentum.” The Guardian, 23rd April 2015 ****

“James Ehnes is the plush-toned soloist, but it is the intense and gritty playing of the Bergeners, and Gardner’s evident empathy with Janacek, that make this music so compelling and dramatic.” Sunday Times, 10th May 2015

“Leader Milina Mandozzi does well to show the way through this mysterious, powerful work [The Fiddler's Child]...These must be difficult works to prepare and indeed to record; both playing and recording are vividly managed.” Gramophone Magazine, July 2015

Presto Discs of 2015

Finalist

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Chandos Janacek: Orchestral Works - CHSA5156

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Elgar: King Olaf

Elgar: King Olaf


Elgar:

Scenes from the Saga of King Olaf

Emily Birsan (soprano), Barry Banks (tenor), Alan Opie (baritone)

The Banner of St George


Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, Bergen Philharmonic Choir, Collegium Musicum Choir, Edvard Grieg Kor, Sir Andrew Davis

Read Presto's complete review of this disc here.

After having recorded Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius (‘Recording of the Month’ in BBC Music), Sir Andrew Davis now turns to two of the composer’s most popular early choral works: Scenes from the Saga of King Olaf and The Banner of Saint George. The recording was made soon after a successful performance, featuring the same ‘excellent Bergen Philharmonic’ and ‘outstanding’ vocal forces: the ‘imposing’ baritone Alan Opie, the ‘high, incisive tenor’ Barry Banks, singing ‘fearlessly in some quite challenging passages’, and the American soprano Emily Birsan, who sang ‘with radiant delicacy’ (The Daily Telegraph).

Dating from his years of ‘apprenticeship’, the two works shaped Elgar’s reputation as a leading orchestrator and most popular British composer of his time. The secular cantata Scenes from the Saga of King Olaf derives from Longfellow’s epic poem about Olaf Tryggvason, who became King of Norway in 995. While the text was heavily adapted and augmented, the use of sophisticated compositional techniques, such as extensive motivic work, resulted in music of great power and solemnity.

The ballad The Banner of Saint George is based on the story of Saint George of Cappadocia, as related by the Bristol poet Shapcott Wensley. It was commissioned by Britain’s leading publisher, Novello, and composed in only one month in 1896. Elgar overcame the prescriptive nature of the words and produced a work of lasting charm, the music rising above the material to create atmosphere, momentum, and colour.

“The Bergen orchestra plays with a keen ear for colour and dramatic flux, and the chorus...makes the narrative live and breathe in suppleness, expressive sensitivity and lusty power...three fine soloists...carry the story with great distinction, subtlety and immediacy of impact.” The Telegraph, 8th February 2015 ****

“King Olaf has been recorded in full once before, in the 1980s...Fine though that version is, Davis’s is better: it has a dramatic sweep and concern for detail that you don’t get from Handley. The Bergen orchestra and choir play and sing Elgar as though it were part of their regular repertoire, while the soloists...all cope well with what is sometimes strenuous vocal writing.” The Guardian, 5th February 2015 ****

“King Olaf is a folk-tale narrative about the Norwegian Olaf Tryggvason, in the tradition of Mahler’s Das Klagende Lied or Schoenberg’s Gurrelieder, and it is splendidly performed by Davis’s Bergen forces. The soloists, Emily Birsan, Barry Banks and Alan Opie, all make positive contributions.” Sunday Times, 15th February 2015

“What a nice idea it was to have a Norwegian choir and orchestra performing English music about a Norse hero...The combined Norwegian choirs sing very well indeed in both works…[and] the Bergen Philharmonic plays with verve and distinction. Sir Andrew Davis…is just the man for these assignments.” MusicWeb International, February 2015

“I suppose it's appropriate that this Norse legend should be recorded by the Bergen Philharmonic, and under the expert guidance of ardent Elgarian Andrew Davis, they and the combined Norwegian choirs seem effortlessly at home with Elgar's music...if you're a fan of Elgar but haven't yet explored some of the choral works that are somewhat off the beaten track, then this is an ideal disc, with enthusiastically engaging performances from everyone.” James Longstaffe, Presto Classical, 26th January 2015

“there's nothing stilted about Elgar's music: it crackles with confident vitality...the Norwegian choruses respond with crisp vigour and superb English diction, only faintly (and appropriately) Scandinavian-tinged. Davis's expansive conducting and the excellent Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra bring out Elgar's vivid orchestral textures” BBC Music Magazine, April 2015 *****

“It is good to have such a fine and experienced Elgarian as Andrew Davis to conduct this performance with the benefit of hindsight, as it were, recognising Elgar's emergent greatness from long experience of where it was to lead him. Davis can fasten upon the glimpses of genius and relish them, while also understanding what there is of value when Elgar is still resting upon the more conventional manner out of which he was formed.” International Record Review, May 2015

“the combined Norwegian choirs sing in faultless English, while Davis leads the Bergen Symphony Orchestra with unerring sensitivity and nuanced conducting” Choir & Organ, May 2015 *****

Presto Disc of the Week

26th January 2015

Presto Discs of 2015

Finalist

BBC Music Magazine

Choral & Song Choice - April 2015

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