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Walton: The Bear

Walton: The Bear


Sir William Walton wrote two operas, the second – The Bear – far more readily acclaimed than the first, and more often performed. Its premiere took place in Aldeburgh in June 1967 as part of the twentieth Aldeburgh Festival, and followed the disastrous reception of Walton’s first opera, Troilus and Cressida, a piece seen as too traditional for the taste of those austere post-war times. So second time round Walton was taking no chances: everything in The Bear is on a modest scale: a chamber opera in one act, for three singers only, no chorus, and the orchestra is chambersized, with a small number of strings (originally solo players). Not only did this specific recording bring the piece to fame but it also proved a revelatory disc for the soloists, Della Jones, Alan Opie, and John Shirley- Quirk, who would go on to become multi-award-winning soloists and whose achievements in British music would become increasingly successful.

Released or re-released in last 6 months

Chandos - up to 40% off

Chandos Classics - The Hickox Legacy - CHAN10947X

(CD)

Normally: $8.75

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Handel: Giulio Cesare in Egitto

Handel: Giulio Cesare in Egitto

Libretto by Nicola Haym. English translation by Brian Trowell. Edition prepared by Noel Davies and Sir Charles Mackerras


Dame Janet Baker (Julius Caesar), Valerie Masterson (Cleopatra), Della Jones (Sextus), Sarah Walker (Cornelia), James Bowman (Ptolemy), John Tomlinson (Achillas), Christopher Booth-Jones (Curio), David James (Nirenus)

English National Opera Orchestra, English National Opera Chorus, Sir Charles Mackerras

“This opera was a personal triumph for Dame Janet. As Caesar, she arms the voice with an impregnable firmness, outgoing and adventurous.
Valerie Masterson shares the honours with Dame Janet, a Cleopatra whose bright voice gains humanity through ordeal. The tinkle of surface- wear clears delightfully in her later arias, sung with a pure tone and high accomplishment.
As a total production, Julius Caesar was an outstanding achievement in ENO's history.
Strongly cast, it had a noble Cornelia in Sarah Walker, a high-spirited Sesto in Della Jones, and in James Bowman a Ptolemy whose only fault was that his voice lacked meanness of timbre appropriate to the odious character. John Tomlinson's massive bass also commands attention.
Mackerras's conducting is impeccable and the opera is given in clear, creditable English.
(See next review for the video equivalent.)”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

“the ravishing accompaniments to the two big Cleopatra arias amply justify the use by the excellent ENO orchestra of modern rather than period instruments...The full, vivid studio sound makes this one of the very finest of the invaluable series of ENO opera recordings in English.” Penguin Guide, 2010

“Even if opera in English translation (or baroque opera on modern instruments) doesn't usually grab you, Charles Mackerras's legendary 1979 remains unmissable, not least for Dame Janet Baker's supremely authoritative Caesar, Sarah Walker's stately Cornelia and John Tomlinson's blustery Achilla.” Katherine Cooper, Presto Classical, August 2014

Building a Library

First Choice (CD) - December 2011

Chandos - up to 40% off

Chandos Opera in English - CHAN3019

(CD - 3 discs)

Normally: $28.00

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Rossini: Stabat Mater

Rossini: Stabat Mater


Helen Field (soprano), Della Jones (mezzo-soprano), Arthur Davies (tenor), Roderick Earle (bass)

London Symphony Chorus & City of London Sinfonia, Richard Hickox

After the enormous efforts that had gone into the completion of the opera Guillaume Tell, Gioachino Rossini entered into early semi-retirement. His setting of the Stabat Mater was thus written during a long period of relative inactivity. In fact, it was his first major composition for twelve years, and the last such he would ever attempt. It was commissioned in 1831 by Don Francisco Fernandez Varela, Knight of the Grand Cross of the Order of Charles III. Rossini accepted, albeit reluctantly, on the condition that it would never be published.

He began the work with the best of intentions, but half way through, due to illness, he had to enlist the help of an old friend, Giovanni Tadolini, whose contributions were kept stumm. Years later, a Parisian music firm made a successful bid for the manuscript with a view to publication. Understandably concerned that Tadolini’s contributions would come to light, Rossini prevented the original 1832 version from being published, and finally proceeded to replace Tadolini’s movements with four of his own. At its Paris premiere in 1842, the new version’s fusion of heartfelt solemnity and devotion with theatrical drama and joyous melodies was met with wild public enthusiasm.

It is this all-Rossini version that we find recorded here, performed by Richard Hickox and the City of London Sinfonia. They are joined by the London Symphony Chorus and four excellent soloists: Helen Field, Della Jones, Arthur Davies, and Roderick Earle.

When the recording was first released, American Record Guide wrote: ‘The choral work is splendid; the spacious, warm recording has caught it, the orchestra, and soloists in an almost ideal balance… this version must now be regarded as the finest available.’ The sentiments were echoed by HI FI News, which wrote that ‘once again, Hickox has produced a vibrant recording, full of exciting moments’.

“Hickox isn’t ashamed of the sorrow that hangs over the subject material. He whips the orchestra and chorus into an intense frenzy in the Inflammatus...Elsewhere, though, the performance is a little 'standard'” MusicWeb International, 6th August 2013

Chandos - up to 40% off

Chandos Classics - The Hickox Legacy - CHAN10781X

(CD)

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Parry - Choral Works

Parry - Choral Works


Parry:

Invocation to Music

The Soul's Ransom

The Lotos-Eaters

Blest pair of Sirens

I was glad


“an outstanding collection of some of Parry's finest choral music.” Penguin Guide, 2011 edition

Chandos - up to 40% off

Chandos 241 - CHAN241-31

(CD - 2 discs)

Normally: $15.00

Special: $12.00

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This item is currently out of stock at the UK distributor. You may order it now but please be aware that it may be six weeks or more before it can be despatched. (Available now to download.)

Howells: Missa Sabrinensis & Stabat Mater

Howells: Missa Sabrinensis & Stabat Mater


Howells:

Missa Sabrinensis

Janice Watson (soprano), Della Jones (contralto), Martyn Hill (tenor), Donald Maxwell (baritone)

Stabat Mater

Neill Archer (tenor)


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Chandos 241 - CHAN241-27

(CD - 2 discs)

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Rubbra - Complete Symphonies

Rubbra - Complete Symphonies


Rubbra:

Symphony No. 1, Op. 44

Symphony No. 2, Op. 45

Symphony No. 3, Op. 49

Symphony No. 4, Op. 53

Symphony No. 5, Op. 63

Symphony No. 6, Op. 80

Symphony No. 7, Op. 88

Symphony No. 8, Op. 132 (Hommage à Teilhard de Chardin)

Symphony No. 9, Op. 140 'Sinfonia Sacra'

Lynne Dawson (soprano), Della Jones (contralto), Stephen Roberts (baritone)

BBC National Chorus of Wales

Symphony No. 10, Op. 145 'Sinfonia da Camera'

Symphony No. 11, Op. 153


“Hickox's reading of the Fifth Symphony is easily the finest and most penetrating; the slow movement has great depth and, thanks to a magnficent recording, a great clarity than either of its predecessors. Tempi are unerringly judged and he brings depth and gravitas to the very opening of the work.” Penguin Guide, 2011 edition

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Chandos - CHAN9944

(CD - 5 discs)

Normally: $59.00

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The Grainger Edition Volume 14

The Grainger Edition Volume 14

Works for Chamber Ensemble 2


Grainger:

Molly on the Shore

for string quartet

Lord Peter's Stable-Boy

for violin, cello, piano & harmonium

The Shoemaker from Jerusalem

for flute, trumpet, violin, viola, cello, double bass & piano (four hands)

Hubby and Wifey

for mezzo-soprano, baritone, cello & two guitars

The Only Son

for string quartet & harmonium

Ye Banks and Braes o' Bonnie Doon

for two violins, viola, cello & harmonium

Lisbon (Dublin Bay)

for wind quartet

The Bridegroom Grat

for mezzo-soprano, two violas, cello & double bass

The Land O' the Leal

for mezzo-soprano, violin, two violas, cello & double bass

Walking Tune

for wind quartet

Willow Willow

for tenor, violin, viola, two cellos & guitar

Harvest Hymn

for string quartet & piano

The Old Woman at the Christening

for mezzo-soprano, piano & harmonium

The Nightingale

for cello & harmonium

The Two Sisters

for cello & harmonium

Sea Song (Sketch for the style of 'Grettir the Strong' Overture or 'Hærmændene paa Helgeland' Overture)

for string quartet & harmonium

Bold William Taylor

for baritone, two clarinets, two violins, viola, two cellos, double bass & harmonium

The Power of Love

for violin, cello, piano & harmonium

Lord Maxwell's Goodnight

for tenor, violin, viola & two cellos

Colonial Song

for mezzo-soprano, tenor, violin, cello & piano

Free Music

for string quartet

The Twa Corbies

for tenor, two violins, two violas, tow cellos & double bass

Died for Love

for mezzo-soprano, flute, viola & cello


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Chandos Grainger Edition - CHAN9819

(CD)

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Frank Martin: Les quatre éléments & In terra pax

Frank Martin: Les quatre éléments & In terra pax


Martin, F:

Les quatre éléments

In terra pax


Penguin Guide ***

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Chandos - CHAN9465

(CD)

Normally: $15.00

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Walton: The Bear

Walton: The Bear


“a marvellous recording” James Longstaffe, Presto Classical, July 2014

Chandos - up to 40% off

Chandos - CHAN9245

(CD)

Normally: $15.00

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Holst: The Cloud Messenger, A Choral Fantasia, 7 Partsongs & other choral works

Holst: The Cloud Messenger, A Choral Fantasia, 7 Partsongs & other choral works


Holst:

The Cloud Messenger, H111

The Hymn of Jesus, H140

Ave Maria, H49, Op. 9b

The Evening-watch, H159

Seven Part-songs, H162

A Choral Fantasia, H177

A Dirge for Two Veterans, H121

Ode to Death, H144

This have I done for my true love, H128, Op. 34 No. 1

Four Part-songs


Della Jones (mezzo-soprano), Susanna Spicer (alto), Mark Milhofer (tenor), Patricia Rozario (soprano)

London Symphony Orchestra, London Symphony Chorus, Finzi Singers, Joyful Company of Singers, City of London Sinfonia, Finzi Singers, Richard Hickox, Paul Spicer

“The Cloud Messenger is a 43-minute work of considerableimaginative power. Before its previoussingle-issue release it had been virtually forgottensince its disastrous premiere under Holst'sbaton in 1913. It shows the composer alreadyworking on an epic scale-–-something that castslight on the subsequent eruption of The Planets.It's marvellous to have the work on disc, though,as you might expect, it's uneven. Those whoadmire the ascetic rigour of his later music mayshare Imogen Holst's reservations, and find thescore disappointingly 'backward'. There arecertainly echoes of Vaughan Williams's A SeaSymphony and several older models. On theother hand, the glittering approach to the sacredcity on Mount Kailasa and the stylised orientalismof the climactic dance are new to Britishmusic; another world, that of 'Venus', is foreshadowedin the closing pages.One of the few incontrovertible masterpiecesin Holst's output, the familiar Hymn of Jesus hasseldom received a better performance on disc.The choral singing itself is splendidly crisp, butthe lively acoustic can blunt the impact ofHolst's acerbic harmonies.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

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Chandos 241 - CHAN241-6

(CD - 2 discs)

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