WGBH Radio WGBH Radio theclassicalstation.org

Elgar: Sea Pictures; Pageant Of Empire

Elgar / Williams / Bbc Concert Orchestra / Yates
Release Date: 05/11/2010 
Label:  Dutton Laboratories/Vocalion   Catalog #: 7243   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Sir Edward ElgarIvor GurneyMichael Hurd
Performer:  Roderick Williams
Conductor:  Martin Yates
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Concert Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 16 Mins. 

In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  
On sale! $25.98
CD:  $21.99
In Stock



Notes and Editorial Reviews



ELGAR Pageant of Empire. The Pipes of Pan. The River. Sea Pictures. GURNEY Lights Out. HURD Shore Leave Roderick Williams (bar); Martin Yates, cond; BBC Concert O DUTTON EPOCH 7243 (76:15)


This release will hold special appeal to Elgar aficionados. Only two of the tracks have been recorded before in the form we find them here, namely the two independent songs “The River” and “The Read more Pipes of Pan,” both orchestrated by the composer. The far better-known Sea Pictures is available in numerous fine performances, notably those with Janet Baker and Maureen Forrester, but this is their first time on disc with a baritone replacing mezzo or contralto in an orchestral setting. (Baritone Konrad Jarnont for one has recorded the Sea Pictures with piano.)


But the main attraction for most Elgarians will be the Pageant of Empire , a seven-song cycle whose provenance Lewis Foreman describes in great detail in his extensive and exemplary notes. In 1924, the British, with their world empire still largely intact and with their love of pomp and pageantry, held a grand exhibition in honor of their achievements. Foreman tells us that it took three evenings to see the whole performance. There was an orchestra of 110 musicians, a choir of 400, and a total cast of 15,000. Tens of thousands attended. Elgar’s orchestrations for all but one of the songs have been lost, so what we hear on this disc is conductor Martin Yates’s own orchestrations based on the piano-vocal scores and on his study of other Elgar orchestral works. The result, to my ears, is as close to being authentic as one could wish. All the opulence, rich counterpoint, and idiomatic instrumental touches like soaring horns and splashing cymbals create a realistic Elgarian sound world. The music, with its sturdy, striding gait and sense of power and purpose, unequivocally fulfills its functional role, though the poems (by Alfred Noyes) are often embarrassingly jingoistic.


The opening song, “Shakespeare’s Kingdom,” has that jolly, bouncy quality of good English folk song while the last, “The Immortal Legions” (the only one for which we still have Elgar’s original orchestration) is imbued with the poignant, yearning nostalgia of the Cello Concerto. In between come numbers of lesser quality, but Yates conducts with such spirit, and English baritone Roderick Williams sings with such appeal and emotional commitment that one can easily overlook that this is in fact second-rate Elgar.


Williams’s sweet, light baritone would be a pleasure to hear were he singing only vocalises. But in addition he invests each song with unique character and every note with meaning. Furthermore, he sounds like he is hugely enjoying his assignment. Texts are not included but can be downloaded in pdf format from the label’s Web site. However, Williams’s diction is so distinct as to render texts almost superfluous.


Two additional song cycles with orchestra fill out the program, both by composers born in Gloucester: Ivor Gurney (1890–1937) and Michael Hurd (1928–2006). Of the two, I much prefer Hurd’s Shore Leave (1962). Though Charles Causley’s five texts are all sea-oriented, Hurd’s music has more the character of the English pastoralists (Vaughan Williams, Bax, Bliss, Butterworth et al. ). This is its world premiere recording.


FANFARE: Robert Markow
Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Pageant of Empire by Sir Edward Elgar
Performer:  Roderick Williams ()
Conductor:  Martin Yates
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Concert Orchestra
Venue:  The Colosseum, Town Hall, Watford 
Length: 18 Minutes 13 Secs. 
2.
Pipes of Pan by Sir Edward Elgar
Performer:  Roderick Williams ()
Conductor:  Martin Yates
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1899-1900; England 
Venue:  The Colosseum, Town Hall, Watford 
Length: 4 Minutes 5 Secs. 
3.
Songs (2), Op. 60: no 2, The River by Sir Edward Elgar
Performer:  Roderick Williams ()
Conductor:  Martin Yates
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1909-1910; England 
Venue:  The Colosseum, Town Hall, Watford 
Length: 3 Minutes 23 Secs. 
4.
Sea Pictures, Op. 37 by Sir Edward Elgar
Performer:  Roderick Williams ()
Conductor:  Martin Yates
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1897-1899; England 
Venue:  The Colosseum, Town Hall, Watford 
Length: 21 Minutes 59 Secs. 
5.
Lights Out by Ivor Gurney
Performer:  Roderick Williams ()
Conductor:  Martin Yates
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
Venue:  The Colosseum, Town Hall, Watford 
Length: 2 Minutes 53 Secs. 
6.
Shore Leave, for voice & orchestra by Michael Hurd
Performer:  Roderick Williams ()
Conductor:  Martin Yates
Written: 1962 
Venue:  The Colosseum, Town Hall, Watford 
Length: 10 Minutes 27 Secs. 

Customer Reviews

Be the first to review this title
Review This Title
Review This Title Share on Facebook




YOU MUST BE A SUBSCRIBER TO LISTEN - TRY IT FREE!
Listen to all your favorite classical music for only $20/month.
Sign up for your monthly subscription service and get unlimited access to the most comprehensive digital catalog of classical music in the world - new releases. bestsellers, advanced releases and more.
Aleady a subscriber? Sign In