2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
This is a fitting complement to the oratorio The Apostles. It was intended to be the second part of a proposed trilogy intended for the Birmingham Festival, The Apostles being the first part. It is of almost exactly the same length at just over 50 min. Both works use a system of leitmotifs in true Wagnerian fashion. The text was written by Elgar himself using the New Testament and the Apocrypha.
Part I of The Kingdom takes place in The Upper Room with Peter (sung by David Wilson-Johnson) addressing the rest of the disciples. Parts II and III concern the Pentecost, 50 days after the Ascension. First the Virgin Mary (Margaret Marshall) and Mary Magdalene (Felicity Palmer) relate acts of Jesus' healing. Then it's the turn of Peter and John (Arthur Davies) to interpret Jesus' works and words. The oratorio ends with the first Eucharist and a singing of the Lord's Prayer.
The music here is inspirational, whatever your religious affiliation, and I think it's a pity that the work is so rarely performed today. As with The Apostles, the music is played by the London Symphony Orchestra backed by the London Symphony Chorus, under the direction of Richard Hickox. It took me longer to get into The Kingdom than The Apostles but I'm sure this is more a reflection on my musicality than on the music itself. Once again, Chandos have done a splendid job in bringing this oratorio to a much wider audience than would ever have any hope of hearing the work in live performance.
on 1 May 2014
We did this choral work recently in my choir, joining forces with another choir as it works best with many voices. Although it took me a while to get to know it (it is difficult to sing), I am so glad I did as it has become one of my favourite pieces ever, and has awoken in me an interest in Elgar. I did not send off for this recording until after our performance, as I couldn't bear the thought of living without hearing it and have listened to it constantly since it arrived. The bass and tenor soloists, in particular, have some sublime moments, and the radiant soprano aria 'The sun goeth down' is justly famous. I don't know why 'The Kingdom' is so little known or performed so rarely: to me it is a monumental and glorious work.