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Elgar: The Dream of Gerontius [Import]

E. Elgar Audio CD

Price: CDN$ 30.89 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Alice Coote (Angel) - Paul Groves (Gerontius) - Bryn Terfel (Priest/Angel of Theagony) - Hallé - Sir Mark Elder, direction

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fresh, urgent version -- a great introduction for newcomers June 2 2011
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Because Elgar stansd for a bygone England, audiences expect a reading of Gerontius to be old English, that is, piety, grandness, and cut velvet. This intimate connection goes beyond musical values; it's a "Land of Hope and Glory" thing that American listeners aren't part of. Which may be why this recording, the least old English I've ever heard, also struck me as the most enjoyable. It is beautifully played and recorded, but more importantly, it isn't traditional, so we outsiders can learn to love the music for its own sake, not its cultural nostalgia.

It's telling that for the first time an American, Paul Groves of Louisiana, was picked to sing the title role. He, too, is an outsider and valued for that reason. The voice is first cousin to British tenors on the order of Richard Lewis, supple, bright, forward, and plaintive. The accent chosen is British, as it almost has to be. Groves, who won both the Richard Tucker Award and the Met's national auditions, is in very good voice, firm and dramatically convincing. He leaps ahead of David Rendall, who sings for Sir Colin Davis on LSO Live, inviting comparison with the honored tenors on classic sets: Lewis, Peter Pears, and Nicolai Gedda. For sheer vocal freshness he outstrips them all, lacking only a deep-dyed association with the part.

In their enthusiastic 2009 review, the Gramophone held Sir Mark Elder's Gerontius up against the classic one by Sir John Barbirolli and the same Halle Orch. (an ensemble that has improved enormously over the years), saying of Sir John that "his famous account has lived in everyone's hearts for decades." For devotees of the work, I imagine that Barbirolli and the equally beloved Boult will never slip from the shelf. I haven't been washed in the blood of the lamb so far as Gerontius goes, but listening to the magnificent Bryn Terfel as the Priest, soaring above ravishing brass chords, I know what it's like to be a believer -- Elgar's score has been stripped of varnish and made meaningful to newcomers, which is a real accomplishment. Any mezzo undertaking the Angel's part is fated to lose to Janet Baker, whose singing on the Barbirolli set remains unique in its lustrous passion. Alice Coote is a rising star in Britain, and she sings with gentle intimacy, not trying to prove anything. Her timbre isn't especially memorable, but she does a lovely job.

If you want to hear The Dream of Gerontius performed with urgency and freshness, this version is one to give first priority to, I think.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Gerontius Oct. 18 2009
By kerrand - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
This is easily the best Gerontius since Richard Lewis. Wonderful quality great performance. I heard the same principals (minus Terfel) perform at the Edinburgh Festival and this recording was just as fine and "live" as the concert one.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Gerontius in ages May 5 2010
By Hugh de Man - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Too bad one of the reviewers doesn't like the piece and gave this cd 3 stars. (Sorry, but I believe the stars are for the quality of the recording at hand, not the piece.) If you DO like the piece, this is the best Gerontius since Britten's, almost 40 years ago, and Alice Coote belongs up there with the great Angels of the past, Yvonne Minton and Janet Baker.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific Recording Aug. 23 2013
By Michael Collins - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
The service, was splendid. The best recording of Elgar's work, received in excellent condition and in record time. I could not be better pleased.
6 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Dream of Gerontius Feb. 9 2009
By Thomas Krauss - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I purchased this CD based on a very positive review and also from having heard brief excerpts of another performance.
The music is slow, evocative, and expansive, with relatively brief moments of high drama. For my taste, its low-key rhapsodic intent is a bit too much of the same thing, though beautiful melody, harmony and orchestration occasionally caught my attention. The style is heavily derived from Wagner's "Parsifal" and perhaps a little also from Mahler, though the music is much simpler than these composers, making it "easy listening" in this respect.
The singing, orchestral playing, and sound of the recording are excellent.

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