Elgar: The Dream of Gerontius, Op. 38

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Elgar: The Dream of Gerontius & Symphony No. 1

Elgar: The Dream of Gerontius & Symphony No. 1


Elgar:

The Dream of Gerontius, Op. 38

Peter Auty (tenor), Michelle Breedt (mezzo soprano) & John Hancock (baritone)

with Collegium Vocale Gent

Symphony No. 1 in A flat major, Op. 55


The Dream of Gerontius has not been released on SACD before, so for the true SACD aficionado this is a must-buy.

“On this evidence, Edo de Waart is clearly an Elgar conductor of no mean instinct. Both performances benefit from his judiciously clear-sighted direction...there's an endearing freshness, sense of new discovery and wholehearted application about this substantial undertaking.” Gramophone Magazine, December 2013

“The First Symphony, in particular, burns under a surface sheen, and “The Dream of Gerontius” is intensely played and firmly sung.” New York Times, December 2013

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Pentatone - PTC5186472

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Elgar: The Dream of Gerontius & Parry: Blest Pair of Sirens & I was glad

Elgar: The Dream of Gerontius & Parry: Blest Pair of Sirens & I was glad


Elgar:

The Dream of Gerontius, Op. 38

Felicity Palmer (mezzo-soprano), Arthur Davies (tenor), Gwynne Howell (bass)

Parry:

Blest Pair of Sirens

I was glad


In The Dream of Gerontius, Elgar succeeded in writing a religious choral work that fell firmly outside the established genres of either the oratorio or the cantata, and unusually the text itself was not biblical either. The score simply states ‘set to music’ and that is exactly what it is: Cardinal Newman’s poem about the journey of a man’s soul to judgement and Purgatory, set to the music of Elgar. The composer himself knew that in this work he had created something very special indeed. On the manuscript score, he quoted Ruskin: ‘This is the best of me… this, if anything of mine, is worth your memory.’ It was written ‘from my insidest inside’, he confided to a friend, and to another he wrote that ‘you will find Gerontius far beyond anything I’ve yet done… I have written my own heart’s blood into the score.’

When it was first released, Gramophone wrote of Richard Hickox’s version of Gerontius: ‘Captured in sound of striking range and focus, Hickox’s bright-eyed conception evinces an almost operatic fervour.’ The Observer called it ‘a masterpiece’, continuing: ‘Arthur Davies is an exceptionally clear, strong and forthright Gerontius, Gwynne Howell a noble angel, while Felicity Palmer is a most unusual icily direct angel.’

On this disc we also have two works by Sir Charles Hubert H. Parry. Firstly, Blest Pair of Sirens, for which both Elgar and Vaughan Williams had the highest regard. This setting of words from Milton’s ode At a Solemn Musick was composed for the Bach Choir in 1887, which Stanford conducted, and it has remained a firm favourite with choirs ever since. Parry composed the anthem I was glad for the coronation of King Edward VII in 1902, and it has since been performed at the three subsequent coronations also (1911, 1937, and 1953) as the sovereign enters Westminster Abbey.

“Much of [Davies's] singing, especially in Part I, is full-throated, almost Italianate and he has all the vocal heft you could wish for...Howell is an imposing vocal presence...The choral singing is as good as any I’ve heard on disc...The playing of the LSO is superb throughout” MusicWeb International, 25th September 2013

“The Elgar emphasises what was lost with Hickox’s premature death. It is powerfully dramatic (the Demons have never sounded more ferociously demonic) but hypersensitive to the marvellous subtlety of orchestral and choral colour.” Sunday Times, 6th October 2013

Chandos 241 - The Hickox Legacy - CHAN241-46

(CD - 2 discs)

$14.75

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Elgar: The Dream of Gerontius & Cello Concerto

Elgar: The Dream of Gerontius & Cello Concerto


Elgar:

The Dream of Gerontius, Op. 38

Mark Tucker (tenor), Lilli Paasikivi (mezzo-soprano) & David Wilson-Johnson (bass baritone)

Sydney Philharmonia Choirs & TSO Chorus

Cello Concerto in E minor, Op. 85

Jian Wang (cello)


Sydney Symphony, Vladimir Ashkenazy

Vladimir Ashkenazy directs a stirring performance of two of Elgar’s mightiest works. The Dream of Gerontius is regarded by many as Elgar’s masterpiece. Elgar himself wrote at the end of the manuscript “This is the best of me…” Jian Wang is the soloist in the composer’s final orchestral masterwork, the Cello Concerto.

“Ashkenazy conducts with heaps of spirit, tingling drama and red-blooded commitment to the cause, and he draws an unstintingly fresh and laudably disciplined response from his massed cohorts...The coupling...has to be one of the most communicative accounts of Elgar's masterpiece to have come my way in recent years.” Gramophone Magazine, May 2012

“The chorus are well trained and disciplined although they are not as crisp or characterful as some...Worth hearing for a magnificent Angel but thereafter only fitfully engaging.” MusicWeb International, June 2012

ABC Classics - ABC4764297

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Elgar: The Dream of Gerontius, Op. 38

Elgar: The Dream of Gerontius, Op. 38


Vinson Cole (tenor), John Hancock (bass), Jane Irwin (soprano)

Bard Festival Chorale, American Symphony Orchestra, Leon Botstein

American Symphony Orchestra - ASO199

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Elgar - The Dream of Gerontius

Elgar - The Dream of Gerontius


Berlioz:

Symphonie fantastique, Op. 14

live 2nd January 1947

The Halle Orchestra

Elgar:

The Dream of Gerontius, Op. 38

recorded 20th November 1957

Jon Vickers, Constance Shacklock & Marian Nowakowski

RAI Orchestra


“Vickers doesn't disappoint, singing with an intensity and a care for the sound and sense of every word that are well nigh ideal. As the Angel, Constance Shacklock, gravely beautiful if occasionally too grand, is first-class, too. The drama Barbirolli brings to the work is recognisable from his later studio account, but here the live sound is at best adequate and at worse unacceptable, with a microphone placed so close to the conductor that at times he seems to be duetting with Vickers. The orchestra and chorus do their best, which isn't quite good enough; it's Vickers who makes this a must-have.” The Guardian, 23rd May 2008 ***

Archipel Records - ARPCD0403

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Elgar: The Music Makers, Op. 69, etc.

Elgar:

The Music Makers, Op. 69

Janet Baker (mezzo-soprano)

London Philharmonic Choir & London Philharmonic Orchestra, Sir Adrian Boult

The Dream of Gerontius, Op. 38

Richard Lewis (tenor), Dame Janet Baker (mezzo-Soprano) & Kim Borg (bass)

Hallé Choir, Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus, Ambrosian Singers & Hallé Orchestra, John Barbirolli


This 1964 recording of The Dream of Gerontius, though made over four days at Christmas in a miserable and foggy Manchester, has long been the version of choice in round-up reviews, most recently on BBC Radio 3 in Building a Library. Besides the leading Gerontius of his day, Richard Lewis, and the tremendous doubled chorus, it established Janet Baker as a peerless Angel.

“The must-have Gerontius, recorded in the idealised soundscape so beloved of the 1960s, where choir and soloists are close-miked and crystal-clear. Richard Lewis's well-groomed, classic tones and Barbirolli's deep understanding result in a benchmark reading.” BBC Music Magazine, December 2007 *****

Building a Library

First Choice - October 2006

Warner Classics Great Recordings of the Century - 3919782

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Elgar: The Dream of Gerontius

Elgar: The Dream of Gerontius


Elgar:

The Dream of Gerontius, Op. 38

Severn Suite, Op. 87


CRD - CRD33267

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Elgar: The Dream of Gerontius, Op. 38

Elgar: The Dream of Gerontius, Op. 38


A high density DSD recording, live at the Barbican Centre on 11-13 December 2005. 36 page booklet with notes in English, French and German, Text in English only

“…a deeply felt, thoughtful and, where needed, highly dramatic interpretation of an indisputable masterpiece.” Gramophone Magazine, October 2006

“orchestral textures were sensuously coloured, and the vast symphonic structure flawlessly paced and handled.The choral singing, thrilling in its immediacy and clarity, can only be described as electrifying from start to finish” The Guardian

LSO Live - LSO0083

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Elgar: The Dream of Gerontius, Op. 38, etc.

Elgar:

The Dream of Gerontius, Op. 38

Walton:

Belshazzar's Feast


Warner Classics - Classics for Pleasure - 5757642

(Sorry, download not available in your country)

Edward Elgar

Edward Elgar


Elgar:

The Dream of Gerontius, Op. 38

Nicolai Gedda (Gerontius), Helen Watts (Angel), Robert Lloyd (Priest/Angel of the Agony)

The Music Makers, Op. 69

Janet Baker (mezzo)


“Nicolai Gedda is the tortured soul approaching death in this recording conducted by Sir Adrian Boult. Gedda's cry of "Take me away!" as he is allowed a glimpse of God for the first time is memorable indeed. The set also includes a wonderful recording of The Music Makers, with Dame Janet Baker treating us to her most honeyed of tones.” James Longstaffe, Presto Classical, May 2014

Warner Classics British Composers - 5665402

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