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Holst: Orchestral Works Volume 3

Holst: Orchestral Works Volume 3


Holst:

The Mystic Trumpeter, Op. 18

First Choral Symphony, Op. 41, H155

with BBC Symphony Chorus


This is our third CD devoted to orchestral works by Gustav Holst. The series was inaugurated by Richard Hickox who sadly passed away in 2009 after having completed only Volume 1. Fortunately, Chandos was able to secure the services of its exclusive artist the acclaimed conductor Sir Andrew Davis for the second volume. Now Sir Andrew turns to The Mystic Trumpeter and the First Choral Symphony, this time conducting the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus and the Grammy-nominated soprano Susan Gritton. Composed originally in 1904 and revised in 1912, The Mystic Trumpeter received only two performances in Holst’s lifetime, and it was not revived until 1980. Holst based the work on a poem from Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, and the influence of Hindu thought is clearly present throughout. Holst drafted the First Choral Symphony in 1923. The work received a mixed reception at the time, to some extent provoked by the highly varied and non-sequential choice of texts, all by Keats. The poetic variety is reflected in a score full of extremes of contrast. Holst himself said of this Symphony: ‘I think the work as a whole is the best thing I have written.’

“though beautifully shaped by Davis, Gritton and the BBC Symphony Chorus, it's not the unconvincingly structured and overlong symphony...but [The The Mystic Trumpeter] that makes the bigger impression...Gritton sings it ravishingly, too.” The Guardian, 17th October 2013 ****

“the chief asset...is soprano Susan Gritton's unaffected engagement with Holst's bright-eyed and full-hearted response to Whitman. Andrew Davis conducts a warm and idiomatic account.” BBC Music Magazine, December 2013 ****

“This is surely Holst's greatest work. Andrew Davis is fast becoming the most incisive and authoritative interpreter of British music and this wonderful recording is testimony...This is a musical treat which is a must for any lover of Holst and the British choral tradition.” Gramophone Magazine, December 2013

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Chandos Holst Orchestral Works - CHSA5127

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Concertos and Cantatas for Christmas

Concertos and Cantatas for Christmas


Corelli:

Concerto grosso Op. 6 No. 8 in G minor 'fatto per la notte di Natale'

Manfredini, F:

Concerto grosso in C major, Op. 3 No. 12 'per il Santissimo Natale'

Scarlatti, A:

Cantata pastorale 'O di Betlemme altera'

Telemann:

In dulci jubilo, TWV 1:939

Vivaldi:

Concerto for strings 'Il riposo - per il Santissimo Natale', RV 270


Three popular favourites, Corelli’s gorgeous concerto for Christmas Eve, an idyllic Christmas concerto by Vivaldi, and Manfredini’s Concerto grosso are complemented by two little-known cantatas by Telemann and Scarlatti. Each of the Italian composers has his own voice, contrasting tremendously with the more rugged German style of Telemann. Susan Gritton is the soloist in Scarlatti’s cantata, described by Classic CD as ‘ravishing and ravishingly sung… worth anyone’s CD token’. This is a disc of intimate Christmas music, which will make an ideal stocking filler. As Classic CD wrote at the time of the original release, ‘This is a delightful addition to the Christmas market, and the careful selection of its items and superb recording ensure that, like the traditional puppy, it’s not just for Christmas’.

“This is period-instrument performance at its best” American Record Guide

“A mix of instrumental and vocal items adds particular attraction to Christmas Concertos and Cantatas. …Susan Gritton dispatches the wide intervals of her final aria with delectable nimbleness and athleticism.” BBC Music Magazine, December 2008 ****

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Chandos Classics - CHAN0754X

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Vaughan Williams: A Sea Symphony

Vaughan Williams: A Sea Symphony


Vaughan Williams:

The Wasps Overture

Symphony No. 1 'A Sea Symphony'


live recording

“The choral singing is as alert and secure as one would expect from Hickox, and the balance with the orchestra is well judged too… Gerald Finley…a noble, warm-toned baritone soloist…” BBC Music Magazine, March 2007 ****

“Gritton’s fearless and star-bright soprano waved the flags of the nations, and with [Geralrd] Finley, finally hoisted the anchor to set free the voyaging soul.” The Times, 6th June 2006

“Hickox and soloists Susan Gritton and Gerald Finley lead a gripping live performance.” David Smith, Presto Classical, June 2014

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Vaughan Williams: The Pilgrim's Progress (complete)

Vaughan Williams: The Pilgrim's Progress (complete)


Gerald Finley (baritone), Peter Coleman-Wright (baritone), Jeremy White (bass), Richard Coxon (tenor), Roderick Williams (bass), Gidon Saks (bass), Francis Egerton (tenor), Rebecca Evans (soprano), Susan Gritton (soprano), Pamela Helen Stephen (mezzo-soprano), Anne-Marie Owens (mezzo-soprano), Mark Padmore (tenor), Robert Hayward (baritone), Adrian Thompson (tenor)

Chorus & Orchestra of Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Richard Hickox

“John Noble was a fine Pilgrim on the old Boult recording, but Gerald Finley brings not only a voice that's as good and well suited but also a dramatic quality that is more colourful and intense. But Boult's cast is very strong, with several of the short parts, such as the Herald (Terence Sharpe) better sung than as here (Robert Hayward).
In the Valley of Humiliation the voice of Apollyon comes as an amplified sound from off-stage, but on record the trick is to catch an overpowering terror, and this they managed better on EMI, partly by virtue of having Robert Lloyd to strike it, and also by the producer's decision to bring it closer. Nor, in the comparison, is there any sense of a confrontation of 'bright young feller' and 'grand old fuddyduddy'.
Boult doesn't sound like an old man, any more than Hickox sounds like a youngster.
Hickox has a big canvas for the recorded sound, and achieves a clearer texture from EMI.
The newer version also has Gerald Finley, and is a fine performance anyway.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

“Many decades in gestation, this opera (described by the composer as a 'Morality') eventually saw the light of day in 1951. It follows fairly closely the contours of John Bunyan's well-known extended parable about the Christian life; here Richard Hickox and the Chorus and Orchestra of Covent Garden provide the support for Gerald Finley as a profound and convincing Pilgrim.” David Smith, Presto Classical, June 2014

Penguin Guide

Rosette Winner

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Chandos - CHAN9625

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Mozart: Coronation Mass

Mozart: Coronation Mass


Mozart:

Mass in C major, K317 'Coronation Mass'

Missa Brevis in F major K192

Exsultate, jubilate, K165

Ave verum corpus, K618

Church (Epistle) Sonata No. 1 in E flat major for organ & strings, K67

Church (Epistle) Sonata No. 7 in F major for organ & strings, K224


Susan Gritton (soprano), Frances Bourne (mezzo-soprano), Sam Furness (tenor) & George Humphreys (bass)

Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge & St John’s Sinfonia, Andrew Nethsingha

On this disc, the Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge performs alongside four soloists and the period instrument ensemble St John’s Sinfonia. The tenor Sam Furness and bass George Humphreys both started their careers as Choral Scholars with this very choir. The mezzo-soprano Frances Bourne is in great demand on the concert platform and has sung with many of Europe’s leading conductors; the soprano Susan Gritton has amassed a vast discography that has earned her two Grammy nominations and includes, for Chandos, recordings of works by Haydn, Schubert, Mendelssohn, and Vaughan Williams.

Mozart wrote the ‘Coronation’ Mass just two weeks into his appointment as Court Organist for the Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg. As it was first performed as part of the Easter liturgy of Salzburg Cathedral, perhaps ‘Paschal’ Mass would have been a more suitable title. However, the work achieved great renown after its performance at the Imperial Coronation in Prague, which took place nine months after Mozart’s death, and the name stuck. The opulence of the Gloria, in particular, is unmistakable, and the alternations between soloists and choir add drama to the text, which Mozart scored with operatic clarity. Here the choir forcefully praises and glorifies, while the soloists more intimately bless and worship.

Also on this disc is Susan Gritton’s first-ever recorded performance of Mozart’s dramatic solo cantata Exsultate jubilate, and a motet for the Feast of Corpus Christi, Ave verum corpus. Mozart’s Church Sonatas, which number seventeen in all, span a period of ten years; because of their beauty and simplicity they achieved a much wider use, beyond the church and into the concert hall.

The Missa brevis, KV 192 highlights Mozart’s ability to write music for the church that was not significantly different in style to the music of the court or the opera house. This mass is known as the ‘Little Credo Mass’ because of the repeated interjections of the short ‘Credo’ theme throughout – a five-note motif which Mozart many years later would use as the main theme of the last movement of his final symphony.

“Violinists Margaret Faultless and Simon Jones prove lively exponents of the two sonatas...The vocal soloists, including soprano Susan Gritton, never sound as if they've been bussed in from the opera house, but skilfully match the direct, intelligently shaped singing of the choir...the sound throughout is solid” BBC Music Magazine, May 2012 ****

“The St John's boys are in fine voice...St John's Sinfonia, led by the college's musician-in-residence Margaret Faultless, offer transparent accompaniment, with Mozart's ingenious horn parts particularly audible.” Gramophone Magazine, May 2012

“The best things about it are the performances of the choir and orchestra. The former sing with fervour and sensitivity as required, and the tang of the period instruments and subtlety of phrasing of the latter is full of character.” MusicWeb International, December 2012

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Chandos Chaconne - CHAN0786

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Susan Gritton sings Britten, Delius & Finzi

Susan Gritton sings Britten, Delius & Finzi


Britten:

Quatre Chansons Françaises

Les illuminations, Op. 18

Delius:

A Late Lark

Finzi:

Dies natalis, Op. 8


One of Britain’s leading lyric sopranos, Susan Gritton here performs a unique programme of works by three English composers, with the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Edward Gardner, ENO’s Musical Director.

The quintessence of Finzi, Dies natalis sets texts by the seventeenth-century poet Thomas Traherne, which reflect the joy and wonder of a newborn child’s innocent perspective on the world. The richly textured, resourceful string writing and the long melodic lines are hallmarks of Finzi’s style. The subtle inflections of the word-setting and lyricism have attracted many leading vocalists both in concert and on disc. Although particularly associated with the tenor voice, Dies natalis was premiered, and is increasingly performed by, sopranos.

This premiere recording of the version of Delius’s A Late Lark for soprano voice is currently the only available recording of the work. A setting of W.E. Henley’s poem ‘I.M. Margaritæ Sorori’, it offers a lovely lyrical reflection of the serene acceptance of death and is especially poignant as it was one of Delius’s last works. Eric Fenby, Delius’s friend and amanuensis, recalls that one day after he had read the poem through to Delius, ‘and had finished playing his setting, [Delius] said, “Yes, that is how I want to go.”’

Susan Gritton, who also appears on Chandos’ Grammy Award© winning Paul Bunyan, here includes the Quatre Chansons françaises, the most significant work of Britten’s juvenilia. The songs, to texts by Verlaine and Hugo, were composed between June and August 1928 when Britten was a mere fourteen, and demonstrate the flair for instrumental colour that was to become the hallmark of the mature composer. The album is completed by the later song cycle Les Illuminations, which offers a further development in his exploration of the orchestral song cycle, a genre that he was to make very much his own during his career.

“Gritton's performance [of Les illuminations) is lustrous and joyous, a precociously talented young man's music brilliantly presented.” The Guardian, 15th April 2010 ****

“...there is much to admire in [Gritton's] delicate, considered vocalism, as well as in her refined musicianship...With the BBC string players on sterling form, Finzi's haunting blend of lyricism and astringency, the bite of his harmonic scrunches and the fluid interplay of his lines...all come over.” BBC Music Magazine, June 2010 ***

“The pleasures here are many...right from the outset one can hardly fail to be struck by the exquisite (but never self-aware) sheen of the BBC SO's response. Edward Gardner directs with the utmost sensitivity...Susan Gritton, too, sings with heartfelt empathy, radiance and intelligence, and her alliance with Gardner certainly distills the necessary tingle-factor.” Gramophone Magazine, July 2010

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Chandos - CHAN10590

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Mendelssohn: Paulus, Op. 36

Mendelssohn: Paulus, Op. 36

(sung in German)


Susan Gritton (soprano), Jean Rigby (mezzo-soprano), Barry Banks (tenor) & Peter Coleman-Wright (bass)

BBC National Chorus of Wales & BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Richard Hickox

Chandos is very pleased to announce the return of Mendelssohn’s St Paulus (sung in German) to the Chandos catalogue. Its re-issue to Chandos Classics places this acclaimed recording at a highly competitive price, and timed to coincide with the composer’s anniversary celebrations.

On the original release, the recording acquired such comments as ‘Not only is the musicianship impressive throughout, the approach is brisk and businesslike, with no hint of the sentimentality which can all too easily dog Mendelssohn.’ (The Organ)

‘Another superb performance from Hickox, who gets a quartet of tremendous soloists and a first-rate orchestra and chorus… One of this year’s musts.’ (Cathedral Music)

“Composed in the wake of (and influenced by) Mendelssohn's epoch-making performance of Bach's St Matthew Passion, Paulus is an impressive work whose punchy choruses bring out the best in Hickox.” BBC Music Magazine, August 2009 ****

“In brushing any Victorian cobwebs away, Hickox tends to favour speeds on the fast side, never sounding hurried but, more importantly, never sounding heavy or pompous as other German versions often do. Choral singing is excellent.” Penguin Guide, 2011 edition

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Chandos Classics - CHAN10516(2)X

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Schubert: Mass No. 6 in E flat major, D950

Schubert: Mass No. 6 in E flat major, D950


Schubert’s final mass and most ambitious setting was composed during the summer of 1828, only months before his death. It was premiered posthumously, on October 4, 1829, under the direction of his brother,

Ferdinand. Much more than his previous efforts in the genre, it is a choral mass, relegating the vocal soloists to three brief episodes to allow for large chorus passages, and provides an extremely active role for the orchestra. Today, the Mass in E Flat is increasingly acknowledged as an individual masterpiece; powerful and disquieting, more monumental than the fifth, but likewise seeking to reconcile liturgical grandeur with Schubert’s own subjective romantic feeling, whilst still influenced by Haydn, Beethoven and Bach. Its concern for splendour is most obvious in the huge set-piece fugues at the end of the Gloria and Credo but all the time liturgical tradition is coloured by an individual and sometimes unsettling chromaticism, possibly evoking the personal pain he was suffering, not only physically but also the anguish of questioning his faith. The result is some of the most violent anguish encountered in a setting of the text. The recording is dedicated to the memory of Francesca McManus, the manager of CM90 who sadly died at the end of November.

“Richard Hickox directs his crack period forces in a strong, sympathetic performance, glowingly recorded. Among rival conductors, Nikolaus Harnoncourt (Elatus) uncovers more disquiet in, say, the Kyrie. But Hickox's pacing and shaping are always convincing, not least in the monumental - and potentially interminable - fugues of the Gloria and Credo. The chorus blaze with white-hot intensity in Schubert's many fff climaxes, while the soloists sing with tenderness and grace in the Benedictus and the ravishing "Et incarnatus est".” The Telegraph, 19th April 2008

“Few period bands have tackled this late, great work, and it comes up gleaming in the care of Collegium Musicum 90 under Richard Hickox's direction. Hickox's soloists are superb, too.” BBC Music Magazine, May 2008 ****

“Turn to Hickox and you'll hear how this heavenly music should sound, with the three soloists (Mark Padmore, James Gilchrist - an ideally matched tenor pairing - and soprano Susan Gritton) singing with pure tone and wondering tenderness.” Gramophone Magazine, May 2008

“Long the Cinderella work of Schubert's miraculous final year, the E flat Mass is now acknowledged as a powerful masterpiece that mingles liturgical grandeur with the composer's own subjective Romanticism. The apocalyptic Sanctus, with its daring harmonic shifts and heavenstorming crescendi, is a musical counterpart to Turner's molten canvases, while the Agnus Dei has a violent, contorted anguish unmatched in a setting of this text. The least personal, and most problematic, sections of the Mass are the monumental set-piece fugues at the end of the Gloria and Credo, where Schubert ostentatiously displays his contrapuntal credentials, probably with an eye on an official church appointment. At the worthy tempi prevalent 20 and more years ago, these could seem interminable, and were often cut.
Hickox chooses broad tempi, balancing dignity and vitality, and building thrillingly to the climaxes.
In the Kyrie, at a mobile tempo, he combines gravitas with a Schubertian lyrical ease, and later he manages the tempo fluctuations far more naturally. You hear how this heavenly music should sound, with the three soloists (Mark Padmore, James Gilchrist – an ideally matched tenor pairing – and soprano Susan Gritton) singing with pure tone and wondering tenderness.
Hickox scores over most rivals with his extra choral firepower at climaxes, and the wonderfully pungent sonorities of Collegium Musicum 90, whether in the dry, fearful rattle of period timpani in the Credo, the lovely 'woody' oboe and clarinet in the 'Et incarnatus est' or the steely, scything trumpets in the Agnus Dei.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

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Haydn - The Complete Mass Edition

Haydn - The Complete Mass Edition


Haydn:

Mass, Hob. XXII: 4 in E flat major 'Große Orgelmesse'

Mass, Hob. XXII: 8 in C major - Missa Cellensis 'Mariazellermesse'

Mass, Hob. XXII:10 in B flat major 'Heiligmesse'

Mass, Hob. XXII: 6 in G major 'Nicolaimesse'

Mass, Hob. XXII:12 in B flat major 'Theresienmesse'

Mass, Hob. XXII: 7 in B flat major 'Kleine Orgelmesse'

Mass, Hob. XXII:11 in D minor 'Nelsonmesse'

Ave Regina (Hob. XXIIIb:3)

Mass, Hob. XXII: 1 in F major 'Missa brevis'

Te Deum, Hob. XXIIIc:1

Mass, Hob. XXII: 9 in C major 'Paukenmesse'

Incidental music to Alfred, König der Angelsachsen, oder der patriotische König, Hob.XXX:5

Te Deum, Hob. XXIIIc:2 'Grosses Te Deum'

Mass, Hob. XXII:14 in B flat major 'Harmoniemesse'

Mass, Hob. XXII:13 in B flat major 'Schöpfungmesse'

Mass, Hob. XXII: 3 in G major 'Missa rorate coeli desuper'

Mass, Hob. XXII: 5 in C major 'Cäcilienmesse'

Mass, Hob. XXII: 2 'Missa sunt bona mixta malis'

Schöpfungsmesse - alternative Gloria for Marie Therese

Te Deum, Hob. XXIIIc:1

Mass, Hob. XXII: 7 in B flat major 'Kleine Orgelmesse'


Janice Watson, Susan Gritton, Nancy Agenta, Lorna Anderson, Pamela Helen Stephen, Catherine Denley, Louise Winter, Mark Padmore & Stephen Varcoe

Collegium Musicum 90, Richard Hickox

Period instrument performances

Presto Disc of the Week

1st December 2008

Building a Library

First Choice - December 2007

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Chandos Chaconne - CHAN07348

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Smetana: The Bartered Bride

Smetana: The Bartered Bride

Sung in English (translation by Kit Hesketh-Harvey)


Susan Gritton (Ma¡renka), Yvette Bonner (Esmeralda), Yvonne Howard (Ludmila), Diana Montague (Háta), Paul Charles Clarke (Jeník), Robin Leggate (Ringmaster), Timothy Robinson (Va¡sek), Neal Davies (Kru¡sina), Geoffrey Moses (Mícha), Peter Rose (Kecal) & Kit Hesketh-Harvey (Indian)

Philharmonia Orchestra & The Royal Opera Chorus, Sir Charles Mackerras

“By almost any reckoning, this is the most popular of Czech operas, in the repertory of almost every opera house, so it is astonishing how few recordings have appeared in recent years; Košler's Supraphon set of 1981 is the only other digital recording. That well-cast version is in the original Czech; this one comes in a crisp translation by Kit Hesketh-Harvey of cabaret duo Kit and the Widow. Hesketh-Harvey, sporting a cheeky cockney accent, also takes the tiny role of the Indian in the Act 3 Circus scene.
What makes this version so successful? The brilliant conducting of Sir Charles Mackerras, of course, plus the scintillating playing of the Philharmonia; an exceptionally strong team of soloists, too. But it's the extra impact of having the comedy delivered in the vernacular that makes this stand out. Echoes of Gilbert and Sullivan can often be distracting when Donizetti or early Verdi are sung in English, but no so here.
Kecal, the marriage-broker, for example, has many patter numbers, and Peter Rose is agile and crystal clear, establishing himself as the key character in the story. Hesketh-Harvey gives the chorus some rapid tongue-twisters to cope with: the Covent Garden Chorus does so admirably.
The sparkling mood is set at the start, with Mackerras taking the Overture at headlong speed and the Philharmonia strings respond- ing with perfect clarity and precision, vividly caught in the warm, clear, well-balanced Chandos recording.
The chorus reinforces the mood, and the duet between the heroine MaSenka and her beloved Jeník instantly has you involved in the complicated story.
Susan Gritton is radiant, producing golden tone and rising superbly to the challenge of the poignant numbers when it seems that Jeník has betrayed her. Paul Charles Clarke as her suitor is less successful: the voice becomes strangulated and uneven under pressure though the characterisation is first-rate. Timothy Robinson as the stuttering simpleton Vašek and Robin Leggate as the Circus Master are superb. Peter Rose as Kecal is wonderfully fluent, matched by the excellent Esmeralda of Yvette Bonner, both defying the tradition of having actors in the roles of the circus artists. Strong casting, too, means the two sets of parents make a considerable impact.
Above all, thanks are due to Mackerras for the emotional warmth as well as highlighting the colour and energy of Smetana's masterpiece.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

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Chandos Opera in English - CHAN3128

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