Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Some wonderful music, awful text
Aaron Z. Snyder | CHESTNUT HILL, MA USA | 12/15/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Jim D, in his review (above), succinctly describes what one gets in this two-CD set (at the price of only one CD). The text is pure blather, and it's a wonder that Elgar could stomach it, especially with his mixed feelings about empires at the time. Yes, most of the best music has been available as The Crown of India Suite; however, there are some gems that didn't make it into the suite. Case in point is the March, which is as great a march as the much better known ones. This is only the second recording of the march ever, the first being a slightly abridged version recorded by Douglas Bostock on the Classico Label nearly a decade ago. No doubt Bostock's version was the one arranged for stand-alone concert performances, and which was, at the time of this masque, rather popular. Hearing it with the choral insert (orchestrated by Anthony Payne from the piano score) makes the experience of hearing it thrilling! The other gem here, also recorded by Bostock, is the song "Hail, Immemorial Ind!" This is, in essence, an orchestrated and vocalized version of Elgar's delicate piano piece "In Smyrna". As elsewhere in the masque, if one can ignore the words, the music in its orchestral garb is gorgeous.
This CD set will, of course, appeal to the Elgar completist. However, I think there is a lot contained in the set that merits exploration by those who merely admire Elgar's work."
A fascinating footnote
Jim D. | NYC | 12/01/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Although he wrote a number of songs, and the famous oratorios, Elgar did little vocal work for the stage. So this new complete version of the 'Crown of India' masque is a bonanza for fans of British music. The text is nothing great, and was slashed by the composer even as he was setting it, but he judged some of the music good enough to arrange a concert suite; the rest has disappeared till now. This recording offers the entire masque--a paean to The Empire which none but the most fervid Elgarian will play very often--and a second disc with the music cues only (also three lesser-known marches). Anthony Payne, a specialist in completing unfinished Elgar, has produced an orchestration for the movements not used in the suite. Gerald Finley speaks his one bit of verse nicely, and can make you believe every word of his grand solo. Clare Shearer, in the great tradition of British mezzos, utters lovely sounds, and makes utter mud of her words. The orchestra and chorus, under Sir Andrew Davis, perform with conviction, and the sound is fine. Not a musicological revelation, but some fun stuff."