Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

For the past five years or so I've posted reviews of classical music CDs, DVDs and Blu-rays, in various places on the web: Amazon.com, iTunes and other sites. I'll collect those earlier reviews, and add four or five new ones every month.

"Music, both vocall and instrumental, so good, so delectable, so rare, so admirable, so super excellent, that it did even ravish and stupifie all those strangers that never heard the like." - Thomas Coryat, after hearing 3 hours of music at the Scuola di San Rocco in Venice, 1608.

Monday, November 2, 2015

An outstanding Elgar release

From November 10, 2014:


Sir Andrew Davis has a formidable range of talent at his command in this recording of two major Elgar works written around the turn of the 20th century: the Dream of Gerontius from 1900, and Sea Pictures from a couple of years earlier. He knows the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus well, as current Conductor Laureate and the second longest serving Music Director after founder Adrian Boult. His soloists are well-chosen. Sarah Connolly’s voice is well-matched with the atmospheric music of Sea Pictures, and her singing in the second part of Gerontius is subtle and affecting. As Gerontius and his Soul, tenor Stuart Skelton powerfully communicates the weariness, hope and ecstasy of a spiritual journey. And bass David Soar adds dramatic interest through his roles of the Priest and the Angel of the Agony. This drama is heightened by the strong choral contribution and the large orchestra, in passages cunningly designed by Elgar to move forward the story of Gerontius’ death and his soul’s journey through the after-life. This project receives the deluxe treatment from Chandos, with an excellent liner essay by Anthony Burton, and interesting pictures of the principals from the recording sessions. The SACD sound is exceptional; I recommend this without reservation.

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