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Elgar: The Black Knight, Etc / Hickox, London So & Chorus


Release Date: 03/19/1996 
Label:  Chandos   Catalog #: 9436   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Sir Edward Elgar
Conductor:  Richard Hickox
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony OrchestraLondon Symphony Chorus
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 1 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

The Black Knight is a large-scale, red-blooded choral setting of Longfellow's translation of a German poem by Ludwig Uhland. Elgar completed it in 1893 and it provided him with his first big success — especially in the Midlands, where it was gratefully taken up by many choral societies. The text tells of a sinister, unnamed "Prince of mighty sway", whose appearance at the King's court during the feast of Pentecost has disastrous consequences. Elgar's score boasts much attractive invention, some of it strikingly eloquent and prescient of greater offerings to come: for example, towards the end of track 8 (the section beginning with "Each the father's breast embraces"), Elgar's touching inspiration momentarily seems to look Read more forward to "Nimrod" and even the First Symphony's sublime slow movement. The choral writing is always effective, the orchestration already vivid and assured. Richard Hickox and his combined London Symphony forces are dab hands at this kind of fare and their new performance is, on the whole, superior to Sir Charles Groves's slightly bluffer, pioneering Liverpool account. I also prefer the greater bloom and spaciousness of the Chandos recording over Groves's 1984 production.

Similarly, in the tuneful, vernally fresh Scenes from the Bavarian Highlands (given here with the orchestral accompaniment Elgar supplied in 1896), Hickox and his colleagues respond with commendable spirit and pleasing polish. There's plenty of affection on show as well: witness Hickox's winsome shaping of the sweetly innocent "Lullaby" (track 12) and the joyous swagger of the concluding "The Marksmen" (track 15). Truth to tell, in matters of interpretation I found little to choose between this new Chandos account and the rival EMI version from Norman Del Mar. Perhaps the latter's Bournemouth Symphony Chorus is not as finely-honed an instrument as Hickox's group; both conductors are, needless to say, immensely sympathetic Elgarians. All told, an enticing coupling.

-- Gramophone [5/1996]
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Works on This Recording

1. The Black Knight, Op. 25 by Sir Edward Elgar
Conductor:  Richard Hickox
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  London Symphony Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1889-1892; England 
Date of Recording: 03/1995 
Venue:  All Saints' Church, Tooting 
Length: 36 Minutes 8 Secs. 
2. From the Bavarian Highlands, Op. 27 by Sir Edward Elgar
Conductor:  Richard Hickox
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  London Symphony Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1895; England 
Date of Recording: 03/1995 
Venue:  All Saints' Church, Tooting 
Length: 25 Minutes 3 Secs. 

Sound Samples

The Black Knight, Op. 25: Scene 1: The Tournament: T'was Pentecost, the Feast of Gladness
The Black Knight, Op. 25: Scene 2: The Entry of the Black Knight: To the barrier of the fight
The Black Knight, Op. 25: Scene 2: The Entry of the Black Knight: When he rode into the lists
The Black Knight, Op. 25: Scene 3. The Dance: Pipe and viol call the dances
The Black Knight, Op. 25: Scene 3. The Dance: Doth with her the dance begin
The Black Knight, Op. 25: Scene 4. The Banquet: To the sumptuous banquet came
The Black Knight, Op. 25: Scene 4. The Banquet: Twixt son and daughter all distraught
The Black Knight, Op. 25: Scene 4. The Banquet: Each the father's breast embraces
The Black Knight, Op. 25: Scene 4. The Banquet: Woe! The blessed children both
Scenes from the Bavarian Highlands, Op. 27: No. 1. The Dance [Sonnenbichl]
Scenes from the Bavarian Highlands, Op. 27: No. 2. False Love [Wamberg]
Scenes from the Bavarian Highlands, Op. 27: No. 3. Lullaby [In Hammersbach]
Scenes from the Bavarian Highlands, Op. 27: No. 4. Aspiration [Bei Sankt Anton]
Scenes from the Bavarian Highlands, Op. 27: No. 5. On the Alm [Hoch Alp]
Scenes from the Bavarian Highlands, Op. 27: No. 6. The Marksmen [Bei Murnau]

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