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Birtwistle: Gawain / Howarth, Howells, Le Roux, Tomlinson, Angel


Release Date: 08/12/2014 
Label:  Nmc   Catalog #: 200   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Harrison Birtwistle
Performer:  John TomlinsonAnne HowellsFrançois Le RouxMarie Angel,   ... 
Conductor:  Elgar Howarth
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Opera House Covent Garden OrchestraRoyal Opera House Covent Garden Chorus
Number of Discs: 2 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Collins should be commended for bringing to disc with reasonable promptness a performance of Birtwistle’s opera Gawain, only five years old yet already occupying an impressive niche in the gallery of recent British music. Collins has chosen a BBC broadcast from the 1994 Covent Garden revival, a reading conducted by Elgar Howarth that balances the need both of voices to be clearly heard and of the instrumental textures to speak in their own right. Already a familiar sound from the composer’s Earth Dances of 1986, the opera’s violent orchestral melos echoes in the memory long after Gawain’s journeys to and from the Green Chapel are over. No less persistent for the listener is a lingering satisfaction that such a uniquely personal musical Read more style has found the exact means of its own dramatic expression. Even the difficulties of Birtwistle’s language seem ameliorated by this recording. Heard with a careful prior reading of David Harsent’s libretto, and with a healthy regard for the magic and mystery that in childhood stories kept us spellbound, the opera transfers easily to the theatre of the imagination. Already much praised, the individual performers clarify their roles with a striking concordance of vocal tone and character. Omar Ebrahim’s Fool and Richard Greager’s King Arthur project dismal irony and weakness respectively. John Tomlinson and François Le Roux quicken the Green Knight and Gawain into such lifelike reality that the need of the plotters – Marie Angel’s Morgan le Fay and Anne Howells’s Lady de Hautdesert – to wreck the complacent Arthurian court becomes less a mythical given than a genuine ethical drama.

--Nicholas Williams, BBC Music Magazine
Reviewing original release of this recording, Collins 70412
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Works on This Recording

1.
Gawain by Harrison Birtwistle
Performer:  John Tomlinson (Bass), Anne Howells (Mezzo Soprano), François Le Roux (Baritone),
Marie Angel (Soprano), Penelope Walmsley-Clark (Soprano)
Conductor:  Elgar Howarth
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Orchestra,  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Chorus

Sound Samples

Gawain (1994 revised version): Act I: Overture
Gawain (1994 revised version): Act I: The Story Begins: Night after night (Morgan, The Lady)
Gawain (1994 revised version): Act I: The Court: They tire me (Arthur, Guinevere, Morgan, The Lady)
Gawain (1994 revised version): Act I: Three Riddles: There was a man (The Fool, Agravain, Ywain)
Gawain (1994 revised version): Act I: Arthur's Response: How can I eat? (Arthur, The Fool, Morgan, The Lady, Guinevere)
Gawain (1994 revised version): Act I: Door Knock; Prophesies and Threats: This is the hour of legacy or loss (Morgan, The Lady)
Gawain (1994 revised version): Act I: Mystery of the Open Door: It's nothing (Arthur, Guinevere, Morgan, The Lady)
Gawain (1994 revised version): Act I: Another Riddle: Something stranger than charity (The Fool)
Gawain (1994 revised version): Act I: Door Knock; Prophesies and Threats: Now is the hour of legacy or loss (Morgan, The Lady)
Gawain (1994 revised version): Act I: Entrance of the Green Knight: Now I shall test his strength (Morgan, The Lady)
Gawain (1994 revised version): Act I: The Green Knight Rides into the Court
Gawain (1994 revised version): Act I: The Green Knight's Challenge: Which of you is king? (The Green Knight, Baldwin, Ywain, Agravain, Gawain, Arthur, Morgan, The Lady)
Gawain (1994 revised version): Act I: The Court's Reaction; Gawain Accepts the Challenge: God's name (Baldwin, Ywain, Agravain, Gawain, The Green Knight)
Gawain (1994 revised version): Act I: The Raising of the Axe
Gawain (1994 revised version): Act I: Time Frozen (Reprise; Prophesies; Riddles; Door Knock): This is the moment that waited for you (Morgan, The Lady, The Fool)
Gawain (1994 revised version): Act I: Gawain Decapitates the Green Knight: God's Name! (The Green Knight, Guinevere, Baldwin, Arthur, Ywain, The Fool, Agravain, Morgan, The Lady)
Gawain (1994 revised version): Act I: The Severed Head Instructs Gawain: My title is Knight of the Green Chapel (The Green Knight, Gawain)
Gawain (1994 revised version): Act I: The Green Knight Rides Off
Gawain (1994 revised version): Act I: The Court's Reaction: It's nothing (Arthur, The Green Knight, Guinevere, Morgan, The Lady)
Gawain (1994 revised version): Act I: Duet: Prophesies and Threats: Now that you've seen its face (Morgan, The Lady, Arthur)
Gawain (1994 revised version): Tableau I: Winter: Day (Women's Chorus)
Gawain (1994 revised version): Tableau I: Winter: Night: Here is your second birth (Men's Chorus, Ywain, Agravain, Baldwin, Arthur, Guinevere, The Fool, Morgan)
Gawain (1994 revised version): Tableau II: Spring: Day (Women's Chorus)
Gawain (1994 revised version): Tableau II: Spring: Night: Here is your second skin (Men's Chorus, Ywain, Agravain, Baldwin, Arthur, Guinevere, The Fool, Morgan)
Gawain (1994 revised version): Tableau III: Summer: Day (Women's Chorus)
Gawain (1994 revised version): Tableau III: Summer: Night: Here is your second flesh (Men's Chorus, Ywain, Agravain, Baldwin, Arthur, Guinevere, The Fool, Morgan)
Gawain (1994 revised version): Tableau IV: Autumn: Day (Women's Chorus)
Gawain (1994 revised version): Tableau IV: Autumn: Night: Here is your second arm (Men's Chorus, Ywain, Agravain, Baldwin, Arthur, Guinevere, The Fool, Morgan)
Gawain (1994 revised version): Tableau V: Winter II: Day (Women's Chorus)
Gawain (1994 revised version): Tableau V: Winter II: Night: Here is your badge of steel (Ywain, Agravain, Baldwin, Arthur, Guinevere, The Fool)
Gawain (1994 revised version): Tableau V: Winter II: Coda: Now with a single step (Morgan)
Gawain (1994 revised version): Act II: Morgan le Fay's Prediction: Now with a single step (Morgan, Gawain)
Gawain (1994 revised version): Act II: The Journey
Gawain (1994 revised version): Act II: A Glimpse: Soon what you most love (Bertilak, The Lady)
Gawain (1994 revised version): Act II: The Journey Continues: A single step (Morgan, Gawain)
Gawain (1994 revised version): Act II: A Glimpse of the Future: Soon... what you want, you'll have (The Lady, Bertilak)
Gawain (1994 revised version): Act II: The Journey Continues: A day, another day, a week of days (Morgan, Gawain)
Gawain (1994 revised version): Act II: A Glimpse of the Future: Soon you'll see its face (The Lady, Bertilak)
Gawain (1994 revised version): Act II: The Journey Continues: Another mile, another day, another week (Morgan, Gawain)
Gawain (1994 revised version): Act II: A Glimpse of the Future: This is the hour of vanity or choice (The Lady, Bertilak)
Gawain (1994 revised version): Act II: The Journey Continues: Mile after mile, day after day, week after week (Morgan, Bertilak, The Lady)
Gawain (1994 revised version): Act II: Castle de Hautdesert: Welcome, welcome, welcome (Bertilak, The Lady, Morgan, Gawain)
Gawain (1994 revised version): Act II: Dance Aria: Now we shall learn (The Lady, Morgan, Bertilak)
Gawain (1994 revised version): Act II: Bertilak de Hautdesert's Welcome and Gawain's Foreboding: My food, my wine, my hearth (Bertilak, Morgan, Gawain)
Gawain (1994 revised version): Act II: The First Lullaby: Lie down without fear of the dark (Morgan, Gawain)
Gawain (1994 revised version): Act II: The First Hunt and Temptation: The door was unlocked (The Lady, Gawain)
Gawain (1994 revised version): Act II: An aside from Morgan le Fay 1: A gift he must not refuse (Morgan)
Gawain (1994 revised version): Act II: Bertilak de Hautdesert's Return 1: Who's there...? (Gawain, Morgan, Bertilak)
Gawain (1994 revised version): Act II: The Second Lullaby: Lie down without fear of the dark (Morgan, Gawain)
Gawain (1994 revised version): Act II: The Second Hunt and Temptation: Are you Gawain? (The Lady, Gawain)
Gawain (1994 revised version): Act II: An aside from Morgan le Fay 2: A word he must not hear (Morgan, Gawain)
Gawain (1994 revised version): Act II: Bertilak de Hautdesert's Return 2: Here's your trophy (Bertilak, Gawain)
Gawain (1994 revised version): Act II: The Third Lullaby: Lie down without fear of the dark (Morgan, Gawain)
Gawain (1994 revised version): Act II: The Third Hunt and Temptation: Winter sun on melting snow: it's blinding (The Lady, Gawain, Morgan)
Gawain (1994 revised version): Act II: An aside from Morgan le Fay 3: Who's there...? (Gawain, Morgan)
Gawain (1994 revised version): Act II: Bertilak de Hautdesert's Return 3: I hunted all day (Bertilak, Gawain)
Gawain (1994 revised version): Act II: Prophesies and Threats: Soon - the moment that waited for you (Morgan, The Lady, Gawain)
Gawain (1994 revised version): Act II: The Green Chapel: Fear of death (The Green Knight, Gawain)
Gawain (1994 revised version): Act II: Gawain Faces Death: Now I acquit myself (Gawain, Morgan, The Green Knight)
Gawain (1994 revised version): Act II: Gawain's Reprieve: The first blow (The Green Knight, Gawain, Morgan)
Gawain (1994 revised version): Act II: The Joruney Back Begins
Gawain (1994 revised version): Act II: The Court (Riddles and Prophesies): Arthur - join us (Guinevere, Arthur, The Fool, Morgan)
Gawain (1994 revised version): Act II: Gawain's Return: Gawain (Members of the Court, Arthur, Ywain, Agravain, The Fool, Baldwin, Guinevere, Morgan)
Gawain (1994 revised version): Act II: Gawain's Epilogue: I left this place (Gawain)
Gawain (1994 revised version): Act II: Coda: Now, at the year's dead end (Morgan)

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