Mark Elder

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Mark Elder

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Tarik O'Regan: A Celestial Map of the Sky

Tarik O'Regan: A Celestial Map of the Sky


O'Regan:

A Celestial Map of the Sky

Hallé, Hallé Youth Choir & The Manchester Grammar School Choir, Sir Mark Elder

Latent Manifest

Hallé, Jamie Phillips

RaÏ

Hallé, Jamie Phillips

Chaâbi

Hallé, Jamie Phillips

Fragments from Heart of Darkness

Hallé, Jamie Phillips

Now fatal change

BONUS TRACK (download only single)

Ryland Angel (countertenor) & Lara St. John (violin)


Tarik O'Regan's title work A Celestial Map of the Sky, here performed by a children's choir with the Hallé, is a vibrant work with propulsive, syncopated rhythms contrasting darker moments of refl ection. The work is inspired by two woodcuts engraved by German polymath Albrecht Dürer in 1510 that are amongst the oldest known printed European star charts of the northern and southern celestial hemispheres.

A deep-rooted interest in North African traditional music (Tarik's family are from Morocco and Algeria) shapes two of the orchestral works on this album. Raï and Chaâbi are not ethnographic studies but are infl uenced by Algerian folk music forms.

Latent Manifest is an ingenious expansion of a single gesture from a Bach sonata, magnifi ed to create an entire universe of orchestral colour.

To close the album, Fragments from Heart of Darkness draws on the music from O'Regan's chamber opera Heart of Darkness, based on the novel of the same name by Joseph Conrad.

The bonus download track, Now fatal change, for countertenor and violin, is a reworking of material found in Chaâbi and is set to the same text by Nahum Tate that Purcell used for Tell me, some pitying angel.

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For the fallen: Elgar & Bax

For the fallen: Elgar & Bax


Bax:

In Memoriam

Elgar:

The Spirit of England, Op. 80: For the Fallen

Rachel Nicholls (soprano)

Hallé Choir

Une Voix dans le Désert

Joshua Ellicott (narrator), Jennifer France (soprano)

Grania and Diarmid, Op. 42 - Incidental Music

Madeleine Shaw (mezzo)


The latest release in Hallé’s award winning series of recordings of works by Elgar couples his last great choral work with a fascinating collection of works which similarly remember the departed.

Previous Elgar choral releases of The Dream of Gerontius (CDHLD7520), The Kingdom (HLD7526) and The Apostles (CDHLD7534) were universally acclaimed, winning numerous awards, including a Gramophone Award for each release.

The largely overlooked The Spirit of England is arguably Elgar’s last great choral work. Thematically linked to The Dream of Gerontius the work sets texts from WWI poets and was premiered in sections during 1916 and 1917. In tone it is close to the melancholy of the Cello Concerto and Britten referred to its music as displaying “a personal tenderness and grief” as well as “genuine splendour”.

The melodrama (spoken words with musical accompaniment) of A Voice in the Wilderness movingly depicts the contrasting moods of the desolate and subdued Western Front by night and the soaring, aspiring lines given to a war-time Belgian peasant girl.

The remaining two works on the album present works inspired by Irish literature. Grania and Diarmid was a play based on tales of Irish mythology.

Elgar’s music for the play, a story of tragic entangled love, was described by playright W.B. Yeats as “wonderful in its heroic melancholy”.

Bax’s rarely performed orchestral work In Memoriam is subtitled ‘An Irish Elegy’. It reflects the composer’s passionate interest in, and love for, Ireland, her literature and her tragic early twentieth century history – including the Easter Rising of April 1916 and the subsequent execution of some of its leaders which deeply shocked Bax. The resultant music contracts outbursts of anger with episodes featuring melody of profound sadness and lyricism.

“Elgar’s beautifully imagined score [of A Voice in the Wilderness] is graced with two very fine performances, from Joshua Ellicott’s narrator (his delivery and accent are pitched exactly right), and from soprano Jennifer France, whose touch with the girl’s song is an object-lesson in how to be affection without affectation” BBC Music Magazine, March 2017 ****

“Elder emphasises the elegiac melancholy of Elgar’s ostensibly “patriotic” works. The pieces may be shavings from the master’s workbench, but they enhance the conductor’s continuing Elgar edition with playing that surpasses the Hallé’s heyday under Barbirolli.” Sunday Times, 26th February 2017

“[A Voice in the Desert] soprano Jennifer France is in radiant voice and narrator Joshua Ellicott's refreshingly natural delivery of the English text most empathetic. Complete with superior production values, exhaustive booklet-notes and full texts, this stimulating collection deserves every success.” Gramophone Magazine, March 2017

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Sibelius: Symphonies Nos. 5 & 7

Sibelius: Symphonies Nos. 5 & 7


Sibelius:

Symphony No. 5 in E flat major, Op. 82

Symphony No. 7 in C major, Op. 105

En Saga, Op. 9


Elder and Halle return to Sibelius with a stunning album of orchestral masterworks in exhilarating live symphonic performances.

Following their recent chart topping release of Vaughan Williams (Sea Symphony CDHLL7542), Elder and his acclaimed forces present a volume featuring major works from one of the great symphonists and orchestrators.

Latest release in warmly received Sibelius series: “Sir Mark Elder is an inspirational conductor and there aren’t too many of those around today. Playing with dramatic bite the Hallé is certainly on its finest form with this all-Sibelius disc. Excellent sound quality adds to the desirability of this release.” Music Web review of previous Sibelius release (Pohjola’s Daughter, Oceanides, Symphony No.2) CDHLL7516 which was Sunday Times Album of the Week, BBC Music Magazine Orchestral Choice, Classic FM Album of the Week and was included in the Sunday Times 100 Best Records of the Year (2013).

Sibelius’ 5th Symphony is one of the orchestral masterpieces, fully displaying the composer’s skill, with evocative and dramatic writing which fully utilizes the orchestral palette.

The 7th Symphony was radical in its seamless one movement structure. Written in the early 1920’s, when Sibelius was tormented with uncertainty and depression, the work was his last in the form and is considered by many as being his finest symphonic achievement.

Inspired by Finnish folk legends, against a history of Russian dominance, En Saga is Sibelius’s first important score to reveal a distinctively Finnish character and was the work with which the national music of Finland became an artistic entity.

“there is something rather cool, not to say downright chilly, about Elder’s approach to [No. 5], as though the atmosphere of the genuinely austere and implacable Seventh had permeated this work, too...Elder’s careful performance [of En Saga], the hushed final pages perfectly realised, is quite special in its own right.” The Guardian

“The Hallé's new recordings reaffirm its thriving Sibelian tradition, matching Sir Mark Elder's measured, often massive readings with playing excellent even in these predominantly live performances…their scale, detail and atmosphere, with the immediacy they draw from the well recorded Bridgewater Hall ambiance…are well worth hearing.” BBC Music Magazine, May 2016 ****

“Mark Elder presides over a strikingly lissom and cogent account of the mighty Fifth. Not only do the Hallé respond with commendable poise, commitment and personality, Elder paces proceedings judiciously, his comparatively fleet-of-foot conception evincing a keen thrust and sparky intellect…[as for the Seventh], I appreciate its thoughtful sensitivity, seamlessly judged transitions and abundance of scrupulously observant detail.” Gramophone Magazine, May 2016

“The conductor brings a bracing ear to the sounds of nature that famously inspired the composer...The Hallé’s playing is now superior technically for its long-standing music director than it was for his great predecessor, John Barbirolli, and Elder is no less impressive a Sibelian.” Sunday Times, 1st May 2016

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Elgar: Sea Pictures & Pomp and Circumstance Marches

Elgar: Sea Pictures & Pomp and Circumstance Marches


Elgar:

Sea Pictures, Op. 37

Alice Coote (mezzo soprano)

Polonia

Pomp and Circumstance Marches Nos. 1-5, Op. 39


The latest release in Hallé’s award winning Elgar Edition features the much anticipated studio recording of Sea Pictures, coupled with the lesser known tone-poem Polonia and the five original Pomp and Circumstance Marches.

Following their recent chart topping release of Vaughan Williams (Sea Symphony CDHLL7842) Elder and his acclaimed forces present a volume of Elgar with revelatory performances of both much loved and lesser well known works. Previous Elgar releases of The Dream of Gerontius (CDHLL7520) and The Kingdom (CDHLD7526) were universally acclaimed, each winning a Gramophone Award.

Premiered in 1899, shortly after the triumph of the Enigma Variations in London the previous month, Sea Pictures became an immediate hit (with two of the songs being performed with piano accompaniment for Queen Victoria at Balmoral two weeks after the premiere). The cycle of five songs for which Elgar selected a variety of poems from his wide knowledge of literature, features a range of masterly orchestral textures and stunning vocal settings.

The featured soloist is world renowned mezzo soprano Alice Coote, regarded as one of the leading artists of our day, equally famed on the great operatic stages as in concert and recital she has been named the 'superlative British Mezzo' (San Francisco Chronicle). Her performances have been described as 'breathtaking in [its] sheer conviction and subtlety of perception' (The Times) and her voice as 'beautiful, to be sure, but, more importantly, it thrills you to the marrow.' (The Daily Telegraph).

Polonia has long been overlooked but this recording will re-establish this highly engaging tone-poem which quotes Polish tunes and Chopin, written as a tribute to Poland’s contribution to the Allied cause in the First World War, in a brilliantly orchestrated score.

Not all of the five original Pomp and Circumstance Marches are as universally well known as No.1 and No.4 and, although constructed on the same structural pattern, they display an extraordinary variety of character. These orchestral showcases are a perfect vehicle with which to display the technical and artistic skill of the Hallé under Elder.

“Alice Coote, partnered with exquisite grace and scrupulous care by Mark Elder and the Hallé, gives us a Sea Pictures of arresting character and flawless technical control…an altogether most invigorating release, this, and not to be missed.” Gramophone Magazine, November 2015

“The way [Coote] peels away the varnish of received interpretation can be thrilling, even in Elgar's Sea Pictures...Elder's handling of the orchestra...is wonderful, and where necessary discreet: to bring out colours and textures while making sure the voice remains centre-stage is no mean feat. He then takes the reins splendidly in Polonia and the five Pomp and Circumstance Marches.” BBC Music Magazine, January 2016 ***/*****

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Schumann: Kinderszenen & Piano Concerto

Schumann: Kinderszenen & Piano Concerto


Schumann:

Kinderszenen, Op. 15

Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54

Hallé Orchestra, Sir Mark Elder


Martin Stadtfeld (piano)

Sony - 88875057912

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Mahler: Symphony No. 9

Mahler: Symphony No. 9


Sir Mark Elder and Hallé’s latest release is a live recording of the acclaimed concert performance of Mahler’s landmark symphonic work, which closed the 2014 season.

Begun in 1909 in the composer’s idyllic Austrian mountain retreat, at a time when Mahler was preoccupied by thoughts of his own mortality, his last completed symphony has been described as his most death-haunted work.

Scored for forces which are modest, by Mahlerian standards, this extended work is characterized by its unusual construction, with often soloistic orchestral writing, evocative use of keys and haunting use of motives and references to traditional Austrian folk dance.

This release is a valuable addition to the Hallé canon of great symphonies, including recent releases devoted to Vaughan Williams: Nos 5&8 CD HLL 7533 - Sunday Times Album of the Week and Music Web Recording of the Month; and No 3 CD HLL 7540 – Gramophone Editor’s Choice Feb 2015

Hallé will perform Mahler Symphony No 5 under Elder at the Bridgewater Hall on 19th March and Mahler Symphony No1 under Markus Stenz, Principal Guest Conductor, in repeated performances in Manchester and Sheffield in April.

Recorded live in concert and in rehearsal at The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester 22nd May 2014. Producer and Editor Steve Portnoi; Assistant engineers Niall Gault and Dermot Gault

“The Hallé perform with uncommon beauty and melancholy, but the music-making increasingly gets under one’s skin.” Financial Times, 21st March 2015

“[The first movement] is very well stage-managed, its three huge, increasingly catastrophic climaxes lucidly navigated; perhaps in the end no single performance can encompass such a searchingly profound and intensely personal work.” The Guardian, 20th March 2015 ****

“Elder eschews folksy sentiment in the Ländler rhythms of the second movement, and his lean string textures favour the woodwinds’ grotesque humour in the Rondo-Burleske. The final Adagio, conceived as if in one long dying breath, is spellbindingly beautiful and moving.” Sunday Times, 12th April 2015

“It’s [the] sense of life ebbing away that Elder’s beautifully alert but emotionally circumspect performance captures so well...The Hallé’s playing is often magnificent. True, the strings don’t have that preening, velvety splendour that the Vienna Philharmonic, say, brings to this repertoire. Yet even this more wiry timbre sounds right in a work where the very sounds themselves seem to be inexorably decaying and melting into oblivion.” The Times, 18th April 2015 ****

“There are long, noble stretches but the conflict zones of the first movement lack that last degree of urgency…the the magic happens: where some interpretations fall at the last hurdle, the great but sometimes hard-to-feel Adagio finale, this one hits peak form.” BBC Music Magazine, June 2015 ***

“Elder has a cool, clear, carefully ordered take on the outer movements - Klimt rather than Schiele…the concluding pages of the finale, patiently unfolded and calm rather than death-haunted, would seem to have been listened to in rapt silence.” Gramophone Magazine, June 2015

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Vaughan Williams: Orchestral Works

Vaughan Williams: Orchestral Works


Vaughan Williams:

Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis

Symphony No. 3 'A Pastoral Symphony'

Sarah Fox (soprano)

Five Variants of ‘Dives and Lazarus'

The Wasps Overture


Following highly acclaimed previous Vaughan Williams releases, Hallé announces a new volume of British orchestral jewels including his Pastoral Symphony which movingly depicts the horrors of the First World War.

Two of Vaughan Williams’ most popular works, Wasps Overture and Tallis Fantasia, are coupled with arguably his greatest and most original Symphony and a delightful multiple setting of a folk-song which enchanted the composer throughout his life.

Hallé’s recording of Symphonies No 5 & 8 (CDHLL7533) was awarded Sunday Times Album of the Week and Music Web Recording of the Month (April 2013)

The Wasps Overture has become one of the composer’s most popular works. From the opening orchestral buzzing of a swarm of wasps, it emerges as one of English music’s great tunes, this work is a showcase for the vivid orchestral colours of Vaughan Williams’ writing, presented here to the height of effect by the acclaimed musicians of the Hallé.

Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis is one of Vaughan Williams’s most frequently played works and is acknowledged as one of the greatest examples of writing for strings. Although the treatment of Tallis’s theme is mainly contemplative, there are dramatic and passionate moments in the Fantasia, which is scored for two string orchestras (the second orchestra comprising only nine players) with solo quartet.

The ‘Pastoral’ Symphony is characterized with a mood which is gently elegiac and dark, and which reflects the work’s true genesis. Although the title mistakenly led audiences and critics to associate the work entirely with rural landscapes and English folksong, it is in fact directly related to the First World War of 1914‑18. Vaughan Williams, although forty‑one when war was declared, enlisted as a private in the Royal Army Medical Corps and served as a wagon orderly in France.

Five Variants of ‘Dives and Lazarus’, for strings and harps was written for the New York World Fair in 1939, when Sir Adrian Boult conducted the first performance in Carnegie Hall. Vaughan Williams first encountered the folksong Dives and Lazarus in 1893, when he was 21, later collecting several versions, and in this mature work he displays his affection for the melody in variants which are not exact replicas but reminiscences of various versions in several folksong collections, including his own.

“The troubled, sullied world that the music explores is recreated by Elder and the Hallé without ever becoming overwrought or maudlin, and bringing out unexpected resonances along the way.” The Guardian, 5th November 2014 ****

“Elder and the Hallé Orchestra play the symphony from the heart and the music soars...A glowing performance of the much-loved “Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis” also raises the spirits.” Financial Times, 29th November 2014 ****

“Performances that rival even the classic Boult recordings...Elder’s interpretation vividly highlights the troubled undercurrents of the Pastoral Symphony.” MusicWeb International, January 2015

“Elder and his inspirational Mancunians continue their own-label RVW cycle with a rapt account of the third symphony, its sombre reflection of a world torn apart by war here winning in its eloquent simplicity.” Classical Music ****

“[the Tallis Fantasia] is tight-reined, yet also singing and surging with no trace of anti-Romantic tendentiousness...But what makes this release so special is Elder and the Hallé's interpretation of the Pastoral Symphony...Elder's telling way with the music's pacing...articulates the whole design with a vividness that allows an element of genuine dramatic sweep to come through.” BBC Music Magazine, January 2015 *****

“the finest volume yet in Sir Mark Elder's unfolding Vaughan Williams cycle...Abetted by uncommonly articulate orchestral playing, the performance of the Pastoral Symphony evinces a glowing dedication, remarkable luminosity of texture, songful rapture and emotional clout that mark it out as a front-runner...A marvellous disc.” Gramophone Magazine, February 2015

“It is still a revelation to find how much Sir Mark Elder draws from well-loved and oft-performed scores…[the Pastoral Symphony is a] wonderfully perceptive performance.” International Record Review, March 2015

GGramophone Awards 2015

Finalist - Orchestral

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - February 2015

BBC Music Magazine

Disc of the month - January 2015

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Donizetti: Rita

Donizetti: Rita

original French version


Written in 1841, Rita, an opera comique in one act, was composed by Gaetano Donizetti to a French libretto by Gustave Vaëz. It was never performed in Donizetti’s lifetime and premiered posthumously at the Opéra-Comique in Paris on 7 May 1860. Opera Rara’s new release is a double first – the first recording of the newly restored critical edition of the score, in the original French, and our first project with the critically acclaimed, Hallé, conducted by Sir Mark Elder (Music Director, the Hallé and Artistic Director, Opera Rara) with Katarina Karénus (Rita), Barry Banks (Pepé) and Christopher Maltman (Gasparo). This 1CD set comes with a fully illustrated booklet with a complete libretto and English translation and informative note, by Francesco Bellotto, about the opera.

“Rita can hardly be described as a masterpiece, but you cannot mistake its French comic style...While it might have been preferable to have native French speakers, Katarina Karnéus, Barry Banks and Christopher Maltman bring Rita to life with infectious spirit.” Financial Times, 22nd March 2014 ****

“The lively score is deftly conducted. Katerina Karneus, Barry Banks (Pepé) and Christopher Maltman (Gasparo) have unidiomatic French, but their voices give pleasure.” Sunday Times, 13th April 2014

“The two men...both sing and speak French perfectly. Unfortunately, although Katarina Karnéus is on lively, lovely form, her French when singing is almost indecipherable...The singers make a great team, but what makes it so much fun is Mark Elder's immersion in the work, which sounds almost as if it was Haydn on top form.” BBC Music Magazine, June 2014 ****

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Donizetti: Belisario

Donizetti: Belisario


Nicola Alaimo (Belisario), Joyce El-Khoury (Antonina), Camilla Roberts (Irene), Russell Thomas (Alamiro), Alastair Miles (Giustiniano), Julia Sporsen (Eudora), Peter Hoare (Eutropio), Edward Price (Eusebio), MIchael Bundy (Ottario), Darren Jeffery (Centurione)

BBC Symphony Orchestra, Sir Mark Elder

Belisario is, quite simply, one of Donizetti’s finest achievements. It proved a triumph on stages throughout the 19th century, yet, incredibly, it is little known today. The libretto, by Salvadore Cammarano (who collaborated with Donizetti on Lucia di Lammermoor), tells the moving and typically complicated story of the 6th century Byzantine general.

Falsely accused by his wife, Antonina (Joyce El-Khoury), of killing their son, he was blinded and exiled as his punishment. Only the recognition by his daughter, Irene (Camilla Roberts), that her father’s former captive, Alamiro (Russell Thomas), was her long-lost brother restores Belisario’s (Nicola Alaimo) reputation; tragically, too late to save his life.

Recorded in the studio, with the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Opera Rara’s Artistic Director Sir Mark Elder, this two disc set is accompanied by a complete libretto with an English translation alongside an article and synopsis by the eminent 19th-century musical scholar, Jeremy Commons.

“Nicola Alaimo leads one of the finest casts Opera Rara has assembled for Donizetti. Joyce El-Khoury (Antonina) and Russell Thomas (Alamiro) are outstanding.” Sunday Times, 20th October 2013

“this Opera Rara recording makes amends for [Belisario's] long neglect. That is above all thanks to the conducting of Mark Elder...He injects it with such energy and pathos that you are reminded of how the conductor can be the most important person when it comes to performing opera...Alaimo does the [title] part justice...[Thomas] lifts it all onto a higher plane.” BBC Music Magazine, January 2014 *****

“The singing of Sicilian Nicola Alaimo is tower of strength in the eponymous title role...[El-Khoury] is a formidable talent whose open-toned voice allied to vocal sensitivity and characterisation is too rare these days...The BBC chorus are tremendous and Sir Mark Elder provides an ideal catalyst.” MusicWeb International, 7th January 2014

“Elder’s conducting displays great belief in the opera and he leads a passionate performance. As Antonina, Joyce El-Khoury’s naturally fast and highly distinctive soprano is hugely welcome in an age of increasing vocal homogeneity; she attacks the role’s considerable demands head-on and delivers a thrilling performance.” Opera Now *****

BBC Music Magazine

Opera Choice - January 2014

Opera Rara - ORC49

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Sibelius: Symphony No. 2

Sibelius: Symphony No. 2


Sibelius:

Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 43

The Oceanides, Op. 73

Pohjola's Daughter, Op. 49


Following their recording of Symphonies No 1 and 3, this release marks the second disc of Sibelius works from the award-winning Hallé under Sir Mark Elder.

The disc includes the long awaited recording of Elder’s interpretation of the ever-popular Symphony No. 2, a work closely associated with the Hallé who gave the British premiere in 1905.

It is coupled with the dramatic Pohjola’s Daughter, an orchestral show-piece with the Hallé here at the height of its powers, and the less well known and deeply evocative musical portrait of the sea, The Oceanides.

Together, the performances of these works perfectly illustrate the renaissance that has been achieved at the Hallé under Sir Mark Elder.

The 2nd Symphony was recorded live from sell out concerts in the Bridgewater Hall, of which critics said:

“The Sibelius reading was more arresting still… The whole elaborate, superbly integrated argument never lost focus for a moment.” Sunday Times

“Under Elder’s nurturing aegis, the Hallé strings sound more enormous than ever in the slow movement, but they can scamper nimbly in the Vivacissimo scherzo...The cumulative power of the playing — and Elder’s certain grasp of the symphony’s architecture — builds to a powerful climax in this rapturously applauded live performance” Sunday Times, 12th May 2013

“The Hallé strings conjure up wonderful dark hues in the opening of Pohjola, and a silvery lightness to underpin the dancing woodwind in The Oceanides. Elder's approach to the symphony is a measured, slow-burning one. He's careful not to ratchet up the drama too early” The Guardian, 16th May 2013 ****

“Elder’s reading [of The Oceanides] is fabulous – the massive, crashing climax powerfully judged, the music on the edge of collapse for a few fleeting seconds...You’d buy this disc for the two tone poems...[the Symphony] isbrilliantly played, but it sounds a little too self-consciously epic and self-important.” The Arts Desk, 18th May 2013

“Elder seems fully in tune with the true essence of the [Symphony] and his orchestra plays it very well indeed...there are three admirable Sibelius performances here. The orchestral playing throughout matches the very high standards that we’ve come to expect from this team.” MusicWeb International, 22nd May 2013

“under Elder, [Pohjola's Daughter is] a primal folktale rather than an urbane fantasy...[in the Symphony] Elder's elemental strength, relieved by a sense of light and space and the Halle's intense playing, help to make this highly recommendable.” BBC Music Magazine, July 2013 *****

“Elder is at his best in the first movment [of the Symphony] which, like the two tone-poems, is sensitively pointed and rhythmically supple, but the Andante seems to me to be holding something back...The precision of Elder's Pohjola's Daughter, with its carefully tiered dynamics...makes a much stronger impression and so does the hauntingly atmospheric Oceanides, which rises to a powerful climax.” Gramophone Magazine, August 2013

BBC Music Magazine

Orchestral Choice - July 2013

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