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Elgar: Dream Of Gerontius, Music Makers / Barbirolli, Et Al


Release Date: 09/18/2007 
Label:  Emi Great Recordings Of The Century Catalog #: 91973   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Sir Edward Elgar
Performer:  Kim BorgDame Janet BakerRichard Lewis
Conductor:  Sir John BarbirolliSir Adrian Boult
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ambrosian SingersHallé OrchestraHallé Orchestra Chorus,   ... 
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 2 Hours 15 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



ELGAR The Dream of Gerontius. 1 The Music Makers 2 John Barbirolli, cond; 1 Adrian Boult, cond; 2 Janet Baker (mez); 1,2 Richard Lewis (ten); 1 Kim Borg (bs); 1 Sheffield P Ch; 1 Read more class="ARIAL12"> Ambrosian Singers; 1 Hallé O & Ch; 1 London PO & Ch 2 EMI 91973 (2 CDs: 136:26 Text and Translation)


Gerontius has had a blessed recording history (see Bernard Jacobson’s excellent summary, with ample references to earlier reviews, in 22:5), and I suspect that most Elgarians have their mix-and-match ideals: combine Anne Sofie von Otter’s Angel with Peter Pears’s Gerontius, add . . .


As far as real-world performances go, however, Barbirolli’s famous studio account is arguably as good as it gets. No other conductor quite matches his sensitivity to the wide-ranging moods of the score, from the Parsifal ian mournfulness of the Prelude to the ecstatic power of the climaxes, from the sulfurous seething of “Low-born clods of crude earth” to the poignant resignation of the final pages. It’s not simply that he understands the grand outlines—on a measure-to-measure level, too, he has an uncanny control of coloristic details (listen to the chill of the tam-tam before rehearsal 17), of texture, of harmonic weight, and (most important) of the breathing patterns of the music. Certainly, this interpretation is vastly more eventful, on the local level, than Colin Davis’s over-generalized vision (30:3). Eventful—but never fussy. Barbirolli manages to provide that wealth of detail without loss of forward pressure: even at its slowest, this reading has an implacable tread.


Richard Lewis is similarly rich in his expressive arsenal, equally at home in the heroic outbursts and the hoarse moments of exhaustion—and his enunciation is exceptionally clear. Janet Baker is—well, Janet Baker; and although I find von Otter more evocatively angelic, it’s hard to deny Baker’s classic status. The orchestra plays as if possessed—the solidity of the brass is especially imposing; and the choral forces bring tremendous resilience to each line, giving the more complex passages an unusual degree of vigor. The engineering is first-rate, too. Indeed, the only weak spot in the performance is the hollow-toned Kim Borg who swallows his words, strains at the high notes, and, especially as the Angel of the Agony, seems disconnected from the text. But that’s a small defect on a superb recording.


As a bonus, we get Boult’s muscular and unself-conscious reading of The Music Makers —arguably the best recording this lesser score has received, too. (Don’t be confused, though, by EMI’s endless reshufflings: they’ve also recently released this Music Makers as the filler for Boult’s own recording of Gerontius , and it shows up in two other EMI Elgar collections as well.) Even at full price, this release would be a bargain.


FANFARE: Peter J. Rabinowitz
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Works on This Recording

1.
The Dream of Gerontius, Op. 38 by Sir Edward Elgar
Performer:  Kim Borg (Bass), Dame Janet Baker (Mezzo Soprano), Richard Lewis (Tenor)
Conductor:  Sir John Barbirolli
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ambrosian Singers,  Hallé Orchestra,  Hallé Orchestra Chorus  ... 
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1899-1900; England 
Date of Recording: 12/1964 
Venue:  Free Trade Hall, Manchester, England 
Length: 88 Minutes 19 Secs. 
Language: English 
2.
The Music Makers, Op. 69 by Sir Edward Elgar
Performer:  Dame Janet Baker (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Philharmonic Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1912; England 
Date of Recording: 12/1966 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studio no 1, London, Engl 
Length: 38 Minutes 0 Secs. 
Language: English 

Sound Samples

The Music Makers Op. 69 (2007 Digital Remaster): (Moderato e nobilmente)
The Music Makers Op. 69 (2007 Digital Remaster): We are the music makers
The Music Makers Op. 69 (2007 Digital Remaster): With wonderful deathless ditties
The Music Makers Op. 69 (2007 Digital Remaster): We, in the ages lying
The Music Makers Op. 69 (2007 Digital Remaster): A breath of our inspiration
The Music Makers Op. 69 (2007 Digital Remaster): They had no vision amazing*
The Music Makers Op. 69 (2007 Digital Remaster): And therefore to-day is thrilling*
The Music Makers Op. 69 (2007 Digital Remaster): But we, with our dreaming and singing
The Music Makers Op. 69 (2007 Digital Remaster): For we are afar with the dawning
The Music Makers Op. 69 (2007 Digital Remaster): Great hail! we cry to the comers*
The Dream of Gerontius Op. 38 (2007 Digital Remaster), Part I: Prelude (Lento, mistico - Moderato - Andantino - Come prima)
The Dream of Gerontius Op. 38 (2007 Digital Remaster), Part I: Jesu, Maria - I am near to death (Gerontius)
The Dream of Gerontius Op. 38 (2007 Digital Remaster), Part I: Kyrie eleison...Holy Mary, pray for him (semi-chorus, chorus)
The Dream of Gerontius Op. 38 (2007 Digital Remaster), Part I: Rouse thee, my fainting soul (Gerontius)
The Dream of Gerontius Op. 38 (2007 Digital Remaster), Part I: Be merciful, be gracious (chorus)
The Dream of Gerontius Op. 38 (2007 Digital Remaster), Part I: Sanctus fortis, Sanctus Deus (Gerontius)
The Dream of Gerontius Op. 38 (2007 Digital Remaster), Part I: I can no more (Gerontius)
The Dream of Gerontius Op. 38 (2007 Digital Remaster), Part I: Rescue him, O Lord...Noe from the waters in a saving home (chorus, Gerontius, semi-chorus)
The Dream of Gerontius Op. 38 (2007 Digital Remaster), Part I: Novissima hora est (Gerontius)
The Dream of Gerontius Op. 38 (2007 Digital Remaster), Part I: Proficiscere, anima Christiana (Priest)
The Dream of Gerontius Op. 38 (2007 Digital Remaster), Part I: Go in the name of Angels and Archangels (chorus, Priest, semi-chorus)
The Dream of Gerontius Op. 38 (2007 Digital Remaster), Part II: (Andantino)
The Dream of Gerontius Op. 38 (2007 Digital Remaster), Part II: I went to sleep (Soul of Gerontius)
The Dream of Gerontius Op. 38 (2007 Digital Remaster), Part II: My work is done (Angel)
The Dream of Gerontius Op. 38 (2007 Digital Remaster), Part II: It is a member of that family...All hail! my child and brother (Soul, Angel)
The Dream of Gerontius Op. 38 (2007 Digital Remaster), Part II: A presage falls upon thee (Angel, Soul)
The Dream of Gerontius Op. 38 (2007 Digital Remaster), Part II: But hark! upon my sense...Low-born clods of brute earth (soul, Angel, chorus)
The Dream of Gerontius Op. 38 (2007 Digital Remaster), Part II: Dispossessed, aside thrust, chucked down (chorus, Angel)
The Dream of Gerontius Op. 38 (2007 Digital Remaster), Part II: The mind bold and indepent (chorus)
The Dream of Gerontius Op. 38 (2007 Digital Remaster), Part II: I see not those false spirits...There was a mortal (Soul, Angel)
The Dream of Gerontius Op. 38 (2007 Digital Remaster), Part II: Praise to the Holiest...We now have passed the gate (semi-chorus, chorus, Angel)
The Dream of Gerontius Op. 38 (2007 Digital Remaster), Part II: Glory to Him...But hark! a grand mysterious harmony (chorus, semi-chorus, Angel, Soul)
The Dream of Gerontius Op. 38 (2007 Digital Remaster), Part II: And now the threshold...Praise to the Holiest (Angel, chorus)
The Dream of Gerontius Op. 38 (2007 Digital Remaster), Part II: Thy judgment now is near (Angel, Soul)
The Dream of Gerontius Op. 38 (2007 Digital Remaster), Part II: Jesu! by that shuddering dread (Angel of the Agony, Soul)
The Dream of Gerontius Op. 38 (2007 Digital Remaster), Part II: I go before my Judge...Be merciful, be gracious (Soul, semi-chorus, chorus)
The Dream of Gerontius Op. 38 (2007 Digital Remaster), Part II: Praise to His Name!...Take me away (Angel, Soul)
The Dream of Gerontius Op. 38 (2007 Digital Remaster), Part II: Lord, Thous hast been our refuge (chorus)
The Dream of Gerontius Op. 38 (2007 Digital Remaster), Part II: Softly and gently (Angel, chorus, semi-chorus)

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