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Elgar: Sea Pictures / Sarah Connolly, Simon Wright, Et Al


Release Date: 12/12/2006 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8557710   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Sir Edward Elgar
Performer:  Sarah Connolly
Conductor:  Simon Wright
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bournemouth Symphony OrchestraBournemouth Symphony Chorus
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 3 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

The Music Makers is the Elgarian equivalent of Bach's Magnificat: it does everything that one of the composer's choral works ought to do, but in a comparatively short span of time. So if the thought of slogging through Gerontius or The Apostles (never mind Caractacus or The Light of Life) horrifies you, but you still recognize the fact that amid the padding there's very good music waiting to be enjoyed, then The Music Makers represents the perfect pick. Granted, there's the perennial plethora of positively putrid purported poetry ("With wonderful deathless ditties," etc.), but no matter. The Bournemouth Symphony Chorus can sound unruly and ill-balanced, but not here, and Simon Wright paces the work ideally. Still a comparative Read more rarity in the Elgar discography, this warmly engineered and vivid performance should win the piece some new friends.

Sea Pictures, Elgar's only orchestral song-cycle, is a lovely work whose history on disc can be summed up in two words: Baker/Barbirolli. It requires a soloist with a wide expressive (and dynamic) range, able to embrace the music's many moods--from the simplicity of Sea Slumber-Song, to the intimacy of In Haven, to the heroic "nobilmente" of The Swimmer. Janet Baker's beautifully focused tone and emotional sincerity continues to dominate the competition, and she even manages to make you almost forget the resemblance between the last number's refrain and "Hello Dolly"--no mean achievement. Sarah Connolly is hardly less successful. She scales down her ample voice very effectively in the gentler numbers but rides the orchestra like a Navy Seal on a mission in The Swimmer. You may find yourself fighting the urge to salute.

Wright's accompaniments are wholly sympathetic, as fine as Barbirolli's and unsurprisingly more brilliantly captured than on the old EMI release. The Bournemouth orchestra also plays very well throughout, sounding as comfortable in this music as Sir John's LSO. An excellent disc, then, particularly for those who like their Elgar in smallish doses.

--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

1.
Sea Pictures, Op. 37 by Sir Edward Elgar
Performer:  Sarah Connolly (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Simon Wright
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1897-1899; England 
2.
The Music Makers, Op. 69 by Sir Edward Elgar
Performer:  Sarah Connolly (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Simon Wright
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra,  Bournemouth Symphony Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1912; England 

Sound Samples

The Music Makers, Op. 69: I. Introduction: Moderato
The Music Makers, Op. 69: II. We are the music makers
The Music Makers, Op. 69: III. With wonderful deathless ditties
The Music Makers, Op. 69: IV. We, in the ages lying
The Music Makers, Op. 69: V. A breath of our inspiration
The Music Makers, Op. 69: VI. They had no vision amazing
The Music Makers, Op. 69: VII. And therefore today is thrilling
The Music Makers, Op. 69: VIII. But we, with our dreaming and singing
The Music Makers, Op. 69: IX. For we are afar with the dawning
The Music Makers, Op. 69: X. Great hail! We cry to the corners
Sea Pictures, Op. 37: I. Sea Slumber-Song
Sea Pictures, Op. 37: II. In Haven (Capri)
Sea Pictures, Op. 37: III. Sabbath Morning at Sea
Sea Pictures, Op. 37: IV. Where Corals Lie
Sea Pictures, Op. 37: V. The Swimmer

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