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Holst The Hymn of Jesus and Delius Sea Drift & Cynara

Hallé , Hallé Choir , Hallé Youth Choir , Frederick Williams (baritone) , Gustav Holst , et al. Audio CD
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
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Holst The Hymn of Jesus and Delius Sea Drift & Cynara + Shostakovich: Symphony No.4 [Vasily Petrenko] [Naxos: 8.573188]
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Product details

  • Performer: Hallé Choir, Hallé Youth Choir, Sir Mark Elder, Roderick Williams (baritone)
  • Orchestra: Hallé
  • Conductor: Sir Mark Elder
  • Composer: Gustav Holst, Frederick Delius
  • Audio CD (9 Sep 2013)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Hallé Concerts Society
  • ASIN: B00EO4W6BE
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 66,051 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Gustav Holst: The Hymn Of Jesus - Various Performers
2. Frederick Delius: Sea Drift - Various Performers
3. Frederick Delius: Cynara - Various Performers

Product Description

Review

The Halle Choir is energetic in the dance and radiant in ecstatic affirmation, with a strong contribution from the Youth Choir's semi-chorus. The Halle plays with precise attacks and perfect blending, and Mark Elder directs with sure control of the episodic structure...These are excellently balanced live recordings made in the Bridgewater Hall. Five star review --Anthony Burton, BBC Music Magazine, December 2013

A warmly expansive reading of Holsts The Hymn of Jesus, exquisitely played and sung, is as fine a modern recording of this tremendous piece as there is. The two Delius works, Sea Drift and Cynara, fare equally well: Elder moulds every phrase delicately and lovingly, and Williams is in especially fine voice throughout. Bravo!" --Guy Weatherall, Classical Music Magazine Aug 2013

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great choral singing, and fine interpretations 17 Oct 2013
Format:Audio CD
Holst's Hymn of Jesus, despite being acknowledged as one of his greatest masterpieces, has become a comparative rarity on disc, and was really in need of an outstanding recorded performance to bring it into prominence. And that is what it has received here; the Hallé Choir sings with great imagination and rhythmic precision, while the orchestra colours the music superbly. Above all, Sir Mark Elder has the timing of the work to perfection, and guides his forces through with exactly the combination of mystery and momentum that characterises the piece.
The text is based on the apocryphal Acts of St. John, which postulate the heretical teaching of Gnosticism, expressed in the phrase `Divine grace is dancing'. Holst finds the right musical language to match the words; mystical in its use of two ancient plainchants, Vexilla Regis and Pange lingua - both heard in the introduction - and powerful rhythmic drive in the exciting 5/4 section. The mention of that time-signature reminds me that this work follows immediately on The Planets in Holst's output, and has many characteristics in common; the irregular rhythmic patterns found in Mars, the tick-tocking ostinati of both Venus and Saturn; the remoteness of Neptune, and so forth.
I should mention too the wonderful contributions of the Hallé Youth Choir, who supply the music's radiant halo in their `Amens', as well as the first appearance of the Vexilla Regis plainsong. And the main Hallé Choir are magnificent, with terrific weight and precision for the great utterances of `Glory to Thee', but also a truly magical hushed pianissimo for `Behold in me a couch; rest on me'. At the end, the burst of applause comes as a shock - hard to believe that such an immaculate performance could be a live rather than a studio one.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Delius
Format:Audio CD
At the risk of sounding like a broken record myself, I have to report once again that a slight edge has been taken off a very favourable review by the decision of Halle Records to use recordings from the Bridgewater Hall.

It's a perfectly understandable choice I know, given today's economic climate and the attendant financial problems in making records. Moreover at least as far as "Sea Drift" is concerned, given Delius' slower paced compositional style, the lack of clarity is not so problematic; indeed it can add atmosphere. But compare Andrew Keener & Simon Eadon's efforts in BBC Mediacity (for Cynara), and noticeably more "snaps into place", without becoming arid or sterile.

Sir Mark meanwhile has truly taken up the baton from his predecessor in Manchester, Sir John Barbirolli, who loved Delius' music, yet he has enough perception not to "over-love" it. It maintains its integrity and doesn't become a wallow. Roderick Williams (who has impressed me in just about everything I've heard him do - especially in the British repertoire), is very fine. He manages to point up the agony, and the resignation, of the he-bird contemplating his loss, without over-egging the pudding. Meanwhile the boy observer looks on, and lessons are absorbed.

Cynara meanwhile dates from Delius' late period; by now infirm and paralysed a batch of wonderful music was bought into the world with fellow Yorkshireman Eric Fenby, the composer's amanuensis, acting as "midwife" to a clutch of compositions. Once again the settings of Dowson are beautiful, and Roderick Williams (without choral support this time) acquits himself splendidly.

The Hymn of Jesus is top notch Holst too, but it was here the reverberence of the recording became more of a problem for me, with lines and textures blurred.
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By Rosound
Format:Audio CD
The Hallé Orchestra and Chorus under the directorship of Sir Mark Elder are on a roll at the present time. Having just overwhelmingly won the Gramophone magazine's Annual Award for Best Choral recording with their CD of Elger's lesser known oratorio, 'The Apostles', they are out to repeat this success with another fine choral recording.

This latest CD features Holst's choral masterpiece, the 'Hymn of Jesus'and two works by Frederick Delius, 'Sea Drift' for baritone, chorus and orchestra and his little known 'Cynara' for baritone and orchestra. Holst's 'Hymn' opens with a haunting prelude played by trombones and cor anglais based on the plainsong melody, Pange Lingua, leading to Vexilla Regis, played on the organ. The Hymn itself follows with full double chorus which creates a sound filled with tension and drama. This is beautifully recorded and every detail of voices and instruments are remarkably clear within a huge vista of aural magnificence.

Roderick Williams is the featured soloist in the Delius works that follow. His rich, warm chest voice is ideal for these pieces and he is again superbly recorded. 'Sea Drift' is based on Walt Whitman's poem, 'Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking' and is a wonderful work and rightfully regarded as one of Delius' best compositions. The work flows and Delius described it to his amamuensis, Eric Fenby thus: 'the shape of it was taken out of my hands as I worked and was bred easily and efortlessly of the nature and sequence of my particular musical ideas and the nature and sequence of the particular poetical ideas of Walt Whitman that appealed to me.'

'Cynara' was the mistress of the poet, Horace in classical literature. Delius' work is based on a poem by Ernest Dowson.
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