The BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus under Oramo with an exceptional quartet of soloists give a vivid and heartfelt interpretation of Smyth’s earliest large-scale choral work. Dame Ethel Mary Smyth, DBE was an English composer and a member of the women's suffrage movement. Her compositions include songs, works for piano, chamber music, orchestral works, choral works and operas. Smyth tended to be marginalized as a ‘woman composer’, as though her work could not be accepted as mainstream, yet when she produced more delicate compositions, they were criticized for not measuring up to the standard of her male competitors. She was the first female composer to be granted a damehood. Smyth's extensive body of work includes the Concerto for Violin,Read more Horn and Orchestra and the Mass in D. Her opera The Wreckers is considered by some critics to be the "most important English opera composed during the period between Purcell and Britten." Another of her operas, Der Wald, mounted in 1903, was for more than a century the only opera by a woman composer ever produced at New York's Metropolitan Opera (until Kaija Saariaho's L'Amour de loin in December 2016).
With all the awareness of the need to promote female composers it is surprising that no national opera company has taken up Ethel Smyth’s masterpiece The Wreckers. This new recording of the overture reminds us of just what a splendid work it is.
The bulk of the new recording is given over to the Mass in D, which is an exultant outpouring, here given its head by the BBC forces under a conductor who seems to have an innate understanding of the British musical temperament.
The Wreckers: Overtureby Smyth, Ethel, Dame Conductor:
BBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic Written: 1906; England
Mass in D majorby Smyth, Ethel, Dame Performer:
Susanna Hurrell (Soprano),
Catriona Morison (Mezzo Soprano),
Ben Johnson (Tenor),
Duncan Rock (Baritone)
BBC Symphony Orchestra,
BBC Symphony Chorus
Period: 20th Century Written: 1891/1925; England
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
Make No Mistake--This is a Major Recording EventNovember 3, 2019By George Pilcher (Westerville, OH)See All My Reviews"I'll put my bias right up front: I like British music, both 19th and 20th century--Whether its Elgar, Vaughan-Williams, Perry, Rawsthorne, Rubbra or Dame Ethel Smyth, I'm onboard. Even given my partiality to British music, however, I was unprepared for the sheer beauty, drama and very deep feeling with which Dame Ethel invested her Mass in D--and definitely not prepared for the sheer magnificence of her orchestration, which gives this work quite an original sound. Anyone seriously interested in the Mass as a musical form, or in unusual treatments of it (she set the Gloria out-of-order by placing it last, following the Agnus Dei)--or in really beautiful, well-written, and dramatically contrasted choral music, in general--should be sure to hear this recording, which leaves no interpretive aspect unexplored. Oramo and his BBC Symphony forces cover themselves with glory, as does the Chandos recording team."Report Abuse