A deeply involving performance of Elgar's masterpiece.
Frank Beck | New York, NY USA | 01/19/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"David Hurvitz is right about British music critics being enthusiastic about Gerontius, but they aren't the only ones: Gerontius is performed more frequently in the UK than any other choral work, except for The Messiah.Newman's libretto may be stilted in places, but it rises to an eloquence greater than that of many operas, and a number of composers, including Dvorak, considered setting it to music. Often the words are stunningly right. When Gerontius dies and finds himself in another world, he describes his condition like this: "I hear no more the busy beat of time ... Nor does one moment differ from the next." This may not be the way someone today would say it, but it is graceful and memorable English, and Newman's words inspired Elgar to create his finest work.Gerontius combines superb writing for solo voices and chorus with orchestration of great power and delicacy. In this recording, Richard Hickox conducts a glowing performance by the London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, whose association with Elgar's music goes back to their earliest years. The soloists are excellent, with Davies and Palmer both convincing in the leading roles. Barbirolli's legendary performance on EMI--due for re-release in January 2000--is still the benchmark by which others are measured, but, with clear, vivid sound from Chandos, this recording is a leading choice, too."