Elizabeth Gale

Soprano

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Beethoven: Fidelio, Op. 72

Beethoven: Fidelio, Op. 72

Live Recording from The Glyndebourne Festival Opera, 1979


Elisabeth Söderström (Leonore/Fidelio), Curt Appelgren (Rocco), Elizabeth Gale (Marzelline), Robert Allman (Don Pizaro) & Anton De Ridder (Florestan)

The London Philharmonic Orchestra, Bernard Haitink (conductor) & Peter Hall (stage director)

Sir Peter Hall’s outstanding 1979 Glyndebourne Festival Opera production of Fidelio remains remarkably faithful to the way Beethoven intended the opera to be. The stage directions of the original version – completed in 1814 after two revisions – are followed exactly by Sir Peter Hall. Yet he still manages to inject fresh excitement and suspense into Fidelio with John Bury’s original lighting and design providing a perfect framework for the drama and conflicts that centre on political intrigue and repression.

The London Philharmonic Orchestra is conducted by Bernard Haitink.

Don Florestan has been falsely imprisoned for threatening to expose the evils of governor Don Pizarro. While he starves to death with other political prisoners his wife, Leonore tries to find him. She disguises herself as the young man, Fidelio, and wins the confidence of the gaoler, Rocco and his daughter Marzelline.

Elisabeth Söderström portrays the courageous Leonore in such a riveting and outstanding performance that alone is worth the whole show. Elizabeth Gale as Marzelline and Curt Appelgren as Rocco bring this unique production to perfection.

Sound Format: PCM Stereo

Picture Format: 4:3

DVD Format: DVD 9 / NTSC

Subtitle Languages: DE (Original Language), GB, FR, ES

Running Time: 128 mins

FSK: 0

“Haitink conducts a faultless, dynamic account of Fidelio. Fine singing from Söderström, De Ridder and Allman smoothes the wrinkles for Halls' 1979 staging.” BBC Music Magazine, November 2013 *****

“It is not perfect, but it is pretty close to that...the mono sound, taken from a television transmission, is rather variable...the stage of the old Glyndebourne Opera House is clearly small...What do these cavils matter, in the face of Peter Hall’s masterly production?...[Söderström] is superb, acting as always with total involvement and producing really heroic notes when required” MusicWeb International, 10th July 2013

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Arthaus Musik - 102307

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Britten: Owen Wingrave

Britten: Owen Wingrave

Opera Film 2001


Gerald Finley (Owen Wingrave), Peter Savidge (Spencer Coyle), Josephine Barstow (Miss Wingrave), Anne Dawson (Mrs Coyle), Elizabeth Gale (Mrs Julien), Charlotte Hellekant (Kate), Martyn Hill (Sir Philip Wingrave), Hilton Marlton (Lechmere); Andrew Burden (narrator)

Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Choristers of Westminster Cathedral Choir, Kent Nagano (conductor) & Margaret Williams (director)

When Britten started to work on Owen Wingrave he conceived the opera both for performance on stage and for TV production.

In fact the first TV production of Owen Wingrave was broadcast in 1971, two years before the staged premiere at Covent Garden. This 2001 production, made for Channel 4 television, intriguingly tells the drama of Owen, who refuses to follow a military career like his ancestors. The story, in which pacifism makes up the main theme, was written by Henry James, and the libretto adapted by Myfanwy Piper. The Canadian baritone Gerald Finley stars as Owen with Peter Savidge, Hilton Marlton and Josephine Barstow at his side.

The production was directed by the award winning TV director Margaret Williams. Highly acclaimed conductor Kent Nagano is the musical director of this performance featuring the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin.

“The cast is outstanding: Gerald Finley as Owen, the formidable Dame Josephine Barstow as his terrifying aunt and Martyn Hill as his militaristic grandfather. Who says singers can‘t act? One of the best opera films ever.” The Sunday Times

Sound Format: PCM Stereo

Picture Format: 16:9

DVD Format: DVD 9 / NTSC

Subtitle Languages: GB (Original Language), DE, FR, ES

Running Time: 92 mins

“Finley and his top-drawer British actor/singer colleagues tread an impeccably drawn line beween emotion and excess. Nagano and his German players might have been a strange choice but they are never less than efficient.” Gramophone Magazine, June 2013

“Nagano’s direction of the Berlin orchestra is clean and precise, and the singing is extremely effective, too. In the title role Gerald Finley sounds splendid but looks uncomfortable...The show is comprehensively stolen by Josephine Barstow, however, who chews up the scenery as Owen’s harpy of an aunt.” MusicWeb International, 3rd October 2013

“The unsympathetic fiancee, Kate...seems a more complex character than before, well taken by Charlotte Hellekant, and the gallery of disagreeable family-members is strongly cast too” Penguin Guide, 2010 edition ***

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Kodály: Choral Works

Kodály: Choral Works


Bartók:

Cantata Profana 'The Nine Enchanted Stags', BB 100, Sz. 94

Tamas Daroczy (tenor) & Alexandru Agache (baritone)

Choir of Hungarian Radio & TV & Budapest Festival Orchestra, Sir Georg Solti

Kodály:

Psalmus hungaricus, Op. 13

Lajos Kozma (tenor)

London Symphony Orchestra, Wandsworth School Boys’ Choir & Brighton Festival Chorus, István Kertész

Missa brevis

Elizabeth Gale, Sally le Sage, Hannah Francis (sopranos), Alfreda Hodgson (contralto), Ian Caley (tenor), Michael Rippon (bass), Christopher Bowers-Broadbent (organ) & Gillian Weir (organ)

Brighton Festival Chorus, László Heltay

Pange lingua

Elizabeth Gale, Sally le Sage, Hannah Francis (sopranos), Alfreda Hodgson (contralto), Ian Caley (tenor), Michael Rippon (bass), Christopher Bowers-Broadbent (organ) & Gillian Weir (organ)

Brighton Festival Chorus, László Heltay

Geneva Psalm 114

Elizabeth Gale, Sally le Sage, Hannah Francis (sopranos), Alfreda Hodgson (contralto), Ian Caley (tenor), Michael Rippon (bass), Christopher Bowers-Broadbent (organ) & Gillian Weir (organ)

Brighton Festival Chorus, László Heltay

Hymn of Zrínyi

Benjamin Luxon (baritone)

Brighton Festival Chorus, László Heltay

Laudes organi

Fantasia on a 12th century sequence

Gillian Weir (organ)

Brighton Festival Chorus, László Heltay


Zoltán Kodály and Béla Bartók were Hungary’s two most important composers in the 20th century. They were both friends and colleagues, working separately and together to document and preserve folk music from Hungary and its surrounding regions. The music they collected strongly influenced their own compositions. Decca was one of the first major record companies to invest in recordings of the choral music of Kodály. Perhaps spurred by the success of István Kertész’s recording of Psalmus Hungaricus, they continued to record a number of the composer’s choral works under the direction of László Heltay. All of these recordings are collected over a double-CD, coupled with Bartók’s Cantata Profana, one of Sir Georg Solti’s last recordings, for which he provides very moving commentary in the booklet.

“Kertesz's intense Psalmus Hungaricus is the keeper here but Heltay's Missa Brevis and Weir playing the rarely heard Laudes Organi are among other considerable valuables.” BBC Music Magazine, February 2013 ****

“Heltay has been astonishingly successful in inspiring Benjamin Luxon (in admirable form) and his fresh-toned choir to the fervour and sensitivity they show in this patriotic work” Gramophone Magazine (Kodály: Hymn of Zrinyi)

“The solo singers are all excellent as are the organist and the chorus” Gramophone Magazine (Kodály: Missa Brevis)

“an invigorating performance” Gramophone Magazine (Kodály: Psalmus Hungaricus)

“Heltay conducts his chorus in a broad, sweeping performance that is impressive” Gramophone Magazine (Kodály: Pange Lingua)

Australian Eloquence - ELQ4804853

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Gluck: Orfeo ed Euridice

Gluck: Orfeo ed Euridice


Elizabeth Gale, Janet Baker

London Philharmonic Orchestrated, Raymond Leppard

Recorded: 1982 Glynbourne

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Warner Classics Warner Vision - 5046739212

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Puccini: Il tabarro

Puccini: Il tabarro

(Remastered)


Sherrill Milnes (Michele), Plácido Domingo (Luigi), Piero De Palma (Il Tinca), Robert Amis El Hage (Il Talpa), Leontyne Price (Giorgetta), Oralia Domínguez (La Frugola), Philip Langridge (Venditore di canzonette), Elizabeth Gale (Due amanti)

Erich Leinsdorf

Released or re-released in last 6 months

Sony - G0100035637365

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Janacek: Glagolitic Mass & Kodály: Missa Brevis

Janacek: Glagolitic Mass & Kodály: Missa Brevis


Janacek:

Glagolitic Mass

Wolfgang Schöne, Robert Tear, Anne Collins, Teresa Kubiak

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra & Brighton Festival Chorus, Rudolf Kempe

Kodály:

Missa brevis

Elizabeth Gale, Sally le Sage, Hannah Francis (sopranos), Alfreda Hodgson (contralto), Ian Caley (tenor), Michael Rippon (bass), Christopher Bowers-Broadbent (organ) & Gillian Weir (organ)

Brighton Festival Chorus, Laszlo Heltay


“Janáček’s Glagolitic Mass is “a mass of life” — joyful, affirmative, and exhilarating. The Decca recording is welcome for the energetic, buoyant and brilliant playing of the Royal Philharmonic under Rudolf Kempe. All in all, a glowing account of this wonderful work.”” Gramophone Magazine

Decca Virtuoso - 4786964

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Britten: Spring Symphony, Welcome Ode & Psalm 150

Britten: Spring Symphony, Welcome Ode & Psalm 150


Britten:

Spring Symphony, Op. 44

Welcome Ode Op. 95

Psalm 150, Op. 67


Alfreda Hodgson (contralto), Elizabeth Gale (soprano), Martyn Hill (tenor)

City of London School Choir (Boys), City of London School for Girls Choir, London Symphony Chorus, Southend Boys Choir, London Symphony Orchestra, Richard Hickox

This re-release of the Spring Symphony, complemented by two smaller but equally life-confirming works by Britten, marks the composer’s centenary year. It also forms part of our ongoing Richard Hickox Legacy series, which pays tribute to this great conductor who passed away five years ago. Hickox here conducts the London Symphony Orchestra with the soloists Elizabeth Gale, Alfreda Hodgson, and Martyn Hill, and a number of UK choirs.

The Spring Symphony is one of Britten’s happiest and most celebrated works. Part symphony, part oratorio, and part song-cycle, this masterpiece requires large orchestral forces, a children’s choir, three soloists, and a large SATB chorus. Originally Britten had considered setting mediaeval Latin poetry, but the ‘re-reading of much English lyric verse and a particularly lovely Spring day in East Suffolk, the Suffolk of Constable and Gainsborough’, made him change his mind. Instead he found his inspiration in English poets such as Edmund Spenser, John Clare, John Milton, W.H. Auden, and Robert Herrick. In the words of the composer himself, this work not only deals with Spring itself but also ‘with the progress from Winter to Spring and the reawakening of the earth and life which that means’. In view of the year in which this work was completed and first performed (1949), the dominant theme might also symbolise the emergence of Europe from the darkness of war.

The setting of Psalm 150 was composed in 1962 – 63 for the centenary celebrations of Britten’s own prep school, Old Buckenham Hall School. It is a truly engaging and flexible work, which is evident from the score itself. Britten wrote it so that as many children as possible could be involved in the performance by playing a variety of instruments. So rather than naming specific instruments, Britten chose the looser characterisation ‘treble instrument’, i.e. anything from a recorder to a violin or flute, and ‘bass instrument’, which could mean a cello or a bassoon.

The spirited and infectious Welcome Ode for young people’s chorus and orchestra was Britten’s last completed work, written for the visit by the Queen to the Corn Exchange in Ipswich in July 1977 as part of her Silver Jubilee festivities.

“The standard of performances is consistently high...Even if you have some of the repertoire in your collection already I’d suggest you don’t make the mistake I made when these discs were first released and pass them by: both are well worth your attention.” MusicWeb International, 29th August 2013

“nothing is more authentically Brittenish than the mosaic of poetic texts and the vivid instrumental and vocal response to them...Hearing it again, in this reissued 1990 recording by the late Richard Hickox.. is a welcome pleasure.” Sunday Times, 14th July 2013

Chandos Classics - The Hickox Legacy - CHAN10782X

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Verdi: Falstaff

Verdi: Falstaff

Live Recording from The Glyndebourne Festival Opera, 1976


Donald Gramm (Sir John Falstaff), Benjamin Luxon (Ford), Kay Griffel (Mrs. Alice Ford), Max René Cosotti (Fenton), Elizabeth Gale (Nannetta), Reni Penkova (Mrs. Meg Page), Bernard Dickerson (Bardolfo), Ugo Trama (Pistola), John Fryatt (Dr. Cajus)

The London Philharmonic Orchestra, John Pritchard (conductor) & Jean-Pierre Ponnelle (stage director)

This legendary Glyndebourne-production by Jean-Pierre Ponnelle from 1976 stars the outstanding baritone Donald Gramm, who had few equals among bass-baritones and who perfectly embodies the likeable loser Falstaff. He is wonderfully supported by a cast of luminaries in the form of Benjamin Luxon, Elizabeth Gale and Kay Griffel. The London Philharmonic Orchestra is conducted by John Pritchard.

Verdi’s final work is a tribute to one of Shakespeare’s comic characters, the roguish hero Falstaff. In order to avoid his bankruptcy, the old knight Falstaff courts Alice Ford and Meg Page, rich townsmen’s wives. The two amused ladies as well as Falstaff’s former old cronies (Pistola and Bardolfo) and Alice’s jealous husband resolve to play a joke on the complacent and clumsy drunkard. But in the end the mocked Falstaff turns the tables and exposes everything as a game. The moral of this opera: “Tutte nel mondo é burla... Ma ride ben chi ride la risata final” (The whole world is but a joke and he laughs best who laughs last).

Sound Format: PCM Stereo

Picture Format: 4:3

DVD Format: DVD 9 / NTSC

Subtitle Languages: IT (Original Language), GB, DE, FR, ES

Running Time: 118 mins

FSK: 0

“None of the individual performances in this production is outstanding, but the team work is, and though the picture is a bit fuzzy, overall this is highly enjoyable.” BBC Music Magazine, October 2013 ****

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Arthaus Musik - 102315

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Mozart: Don Giovanni, K527

Mozart: Don Giovanni, K527

Live Recording from The Glyndebourne Festival Opera, 1977


Benjamin Luxon (Don Giovanni), Stafford Dean (Leporello), Horiana Branisteanu (Donna Anna), Rachel Yakar (Donna Elvira), Leo Goeke (Don Ottavio) & Elizabeth Gale (Zerlina)

The London Philharmonic Orchestra, Bernard Haitink (conductor) & Peter Hall (stage director)

Since its debut in 1934 the Glyndebourne Festival has put a focus on Mozart operas and developed a great competence in staging them. Mozart’s operas seem to be made for the small but fine opera house in Glyndebourne and it’s not surprising that the 1977 Don Giovanni, one of Mozart’s great masterpieces, was a huge success.

This production is conducted by Bernard Haitink who holds the opinion, that no other composer had more opera in his blood than Mozart. It has been proven, for example, that Mozart had no overture for Don Giovanni until the evening before the premiere in Prague and wrote it down in just one night.

Like the premiere’s success of the opera in Prague in 1787 the Glyndebourne’s version staged by Peter Hall was praised by audience and critics alike: “We witness a lively and wide-awake ensemble piece that has easily survived all these decades, and still manages to teach many directors the art of playing theatre.” (WDR) With outstanding performances by Horiana Branisteanu, Benjamin Luxon, Stafford Dean and Leo Goeke this production is a real highlight.

Sound Format: PCM Stereo

Picture Format: 4:3

DVD Format: DVD 9 / NTSC

Subtitle Languages: IT (Original Language), GB, DE, FR, ES

Running Time: 174 mins

FSK: 0

“Though it's raining all the time, this is otherwise a straight production - superbly conducted with a good cast - which leaves us to draw our own conclusions about the opera.” BBC Music Magazine, July 2013 ****

“Hall's direction clarifies the plot whilst John Bury's sets are realistic if rather over dark, particularly in act two...Branisteanu is a full-toned Anna and plays the role of the ultimate austere virgin in facial expression, vocal tone and costume...On the rostrum, Bernard Haitink’s Mozart would gain more over the coming years” MusicWeb International, 5th July 2013

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Strauss, R: Intermezzo, Op. 72

Strauss, R: Intermezzo, Op. 72

BBC live broadcast recorded at Glyndebourne, 1974

Sung in English


Elisabeth Söderström (Christine), Marco Bakker (Storch), Richard Allfrey (Frantzl), Elizabeth Gale (Anna), Alexander Oliver (Baron Lummer), Anthony Rolfe Johnson (Stroh), Thomas Lawlor (Der Notar)

Glyndebourne Festival Chorus & London Philharmonic Orchestra, Sir John Pritchard

Elisabeth Söderström (1927-2009) stars in this live BBC broadcast of Richard Strauss’s comic and pioneering opera, Intermezzo, recorded at Glyndebourne in 1974. This unique performance is now available on CD for the first time as part of Chandos’ Opera in English historical series.

One of the great sopranos of the twentieth century, Söderström’s performances throughout the world were as famous as her many classic recordings. At Glyndebourne, from where this 1974 performance was recorded by the BBC, she appeared in some 13 festivals over a period of 25 years. Her performances of Richard Strauss were particularly admired. Invited to sing the central role of Christine in the first British performance of Intermezzo, this Swedish-born, multi-lingual artist insisted that it should be sung in English – contrary to the company’s policy at that time. She won the argument, as can be heard on the CD.

Glyndebourne’s George Christie sums up the characteristics of this great artist: ‘She was a consummate singer/actress – a mistress of bathos and an exquisite comedienne. She was beguilingly beautiful. Audiences fell in love with her as did her team-mates on stage – and off-stage. At Glyndebourne she reigned supreme. There was no lack of rivals, but she had an indefinable quality which made her the unquestioned, unchallenged queen.’

Intermezzo was first performed in 1924, and is based on an incident in the often turbulent, but enduring marriage of the composer, Richard Strauss, and his wife, Pauline. Strauss had yearned to write a work in lighter vein than his previous operas – and turned for his material to his marital life with Pauline. The storyline is about a wife who, feeling neglected and upset that her composer/husband is often away, goes off seeking enjoyment elsewhere. The fusion of music and dialogue is remarkable in the way that Strauss welds together lyrical outpourings, sprechgesang, the earthy dialect of servants and the polished language of their employers to draw fine characterisations, all underpinned by a brilliant score that illuminates the action. The opera draws an affectionate yet sharp portrait, employing many devices typically used in comic opera – misunderstandings, confused names, intercepted telegrams, and the like. Nevertheless, Pauline Strauss failed to see the joke (true to character), whilst audiences of the day thought Strauss’s thinly-veiled ‘portrait of a marriage’ in dubious taste. After Strauss’s death the work did gain in popularity, Glyndebourne’s production doing much to stimulate admiration for the opera in Britain.

“Alas, yet hooray all the same, that it has taken the loss of one of opera's loveliest personalities to lure this recording out of the Radio 3 archives...Söderström finally gets to pull out all the long-lined lyric stops in a love-scene with Marco Bakker's underpowered Storch. When Intermezzo is good, it's great, and a true original. I love it very much, and clearly Söderström did too.” BBC Music Magazine, March 2011 ****

“Not until hearing this recording did I realise that this opera is so much more than a comedy. At the end of Act 1 when Christine is convinced the marriage is over, Pritchard's handling of the orchestra shows how deftly the music conveys that gut-wrenching feeling when the most basic fabric of one's life is ripped to pieces.” Gramophone Magazine, September 2011

“In excellent voice, Söderström easily pulls unprepared high pianissimo attacks out of the air and takes any long-lined legato phrase in her stride. Hers is a virtuoso performance, utterly complete in its details yet seemingly spontaneous in every utterance...This is obviously an essential acquisition for all Söderström admirers...but also for all who enjoy the lighter Strauss. .” International Record Review, March 2011

“Elisabeth Söderström was an unforgettable Straussian...it is a delight to have her witty and moving Christine...she is glorious in the lyrical passages.” Sunday Times, 20th February 2011

“Söderström herself is often devastating as the musician's wife whose volatile temper masks a lonely vulnerability. There's also a fine performance from Alexander Oliver as Lummer, the aristocratic extortionist who gradually homes in on her.” The Guardian, 13th January 2011 ****

Chandos Opera in English - CHAN3174(2)

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