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. Again, Roderick Williams is in fine voice and sings the verses with feeling, warmth and great beauty, ably accompanied by the Hallé under Mark Elder. 'Cynara' was dedicated to the memory of English composer, Peter Warlock.
This is a highly recommendable recording of the best of English vocal and choral music. You may buy with confidence of lasting musical pleasure. Enjoy!Holst: The Hymn of Jesus - Delius: Sea Drift, Cynara