An instant success, Charles Hubert Hastings Parry’s oratorio Judith premiered in Birmingham in August 1888. The work consolidated his reputation as a composer of large-scale orchestral and choral writing. With its vigorous choruses and dramatic solo roles, the work is of persistent quality. Yet somehow, the work has been largely neglected for the last century. On this release, the work is presented by the Crouch End Festival Chorus and the London Mozart Players led by William Vann. Soloists Sarah Fox, Kathryn Rudge, Toby Spence and Henry Waddington round out the recording with enthusiastic performances.
Every aspect of this performance sounds like a labour of love. Rudge’s soaring, expressive singing as Meshullemeth gives the piece its real heart, and she’s accompanied with intense sympathy by the conductor William Vann, who avoids any suggestion of bombast or sentimentality, and builds Parry’s great paragraphs so eloquently and with such assurance that you’d think he’d been conducting this music all his life
You don’t have to be Parry’s champion Prince Charles to feel a thrill as the soprano Sarah Fox rings out as Judith, the Crouch Enders exult, the tenor Toby Spence sonorously conveys the vacillating king Manasseh and Parry creates sequences of stirring clamour.
– Sunday Times (UK)