Customer Reviews


6 Reviews
5 star:
 (3)
4 star:
 (3)
3 star:    (0)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 
Most Helpful First | Newest First

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully imaginative & inspired performance!, 26 Dec 2009
By 
Scriabinmahler (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Starlight Express (Audio CD)
This is the most comprehensive recording of 'Starlight Express' available on CD (TT78:57), based on Elgar's own recording on eight 78rpm discs. The all three acts are presented as faithfully as possible to the original 300 page score and to the world premiere version realised by the composer himself. Elgar's creative, compositional process and the story of the first production, the historical background of the original tale which inspired the composer, and the synopsis, and the original text of the songs are all thoroughly documented in 27 page booklet. Learning about late Elgar's great enthusiasm for this work and its historical context in the raging Great War, deepens your appreciation of this largest stage work Elgar ever composed, and makes for a poignantly moving listening experience.

'Starlight Express' is filled with amazingly inspired melodies and imbued with the magical, other-worldly beauty of childhood innocence. I listen to this music on every Christmas day alongside Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker - just a right kind of music to let you forget all the meaningless stress associated with the whole business of being merry (often forcefully!) this time of year.

All these memorable songs and masterly orchestration suggest what might have happened to British classical music history, if Elgar had become a great opera composer. As in his great oratorios, it seems, the spirit of creative inspiration visited the composer most naturally, when his thoughts and imaginations were guided by literatures. Elgar had a rare gift of uniting the literary narratives with the musical ideas in such an intimate and inseparable way, that the essence of the story is communicated to listeners even without knowing the whole story! That is the case with the works like 'Light of Life', 'Caractacus', and 'Starlight Express.'

In this beautiful EMI stereo recording, Valerie Masterson has just a right kind of vibrant soprano voice with youthful quality for her role as a fairy and Jane Anne, and Derek Hammond-Stroud (baritone) gives warm and wonderfully imaginative performance of the songs of Organ-grinder. Vernon Handley / LPO provides deeply sympathetic and vividly expressive background in broad tempi and deeply felt orchestra playing. A must-buy for anyone who adores Elgar's music!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Performance of an Astonishing Masterpiece, 13 Aug 2009
By 
Geoffrey Bellamy "SamboGeoff" (Yorkshire, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Starlight Express (Audio CD)
This originally appeared on 2 full-price lps in 1976. The BBC broadcast them on Radio 3. Most of the performance was new, excerpts had been recorded by Elgar on 78s and George Hurst had recorded selections in Bournemouth, very well.
Vernon Handley had top-quality soloists in Valerie Masterson, at her peak, and Derek Hammond-Stroud, characterful and sensitive. The LPO played marvellously for him, with rich sound and extremely expressive phrasing, so vital in this of all pieces.
To hymn this cd would take ages, but there is one moment, for me, which illustrates why this is a great work and a great performance of it. Track 21, verse 4 of the Organ Grinder's song. Towards the end of the verse Handley brings out such delicacy and refinement of sound and phrasing and Hammond-Stoud, sits beautifully on the words "As that night in leafy June, when I caught the children dancing..." This is a tear-inspiring moment, as it encapsulates what Elgar was doing in the work. The booklet essay is a masterpiece of analysis and insight by the great Elgar scholar Jerrold Northrop Moore. Elgar put his whole being into this work and had a unique affection for it - as witness his letters and reactions to its fate.
When, in the final pages, he quotes the first part of "The First Noel", he brings such tears of remembrance and spirit-lifting grace, the work moves even the coldest hearts, knowing that Elgar meant this music very deeply. You cannot appreciate Elgar and not know this work, and this is THE recording to have. It is a great tribute to the late Vernon Handley that we can share in its glories.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Elgar's lighter music at its best, 28 Mar 2011
By 
Bacchus (Greater London - Surrey) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Starlight Express (Audio CD)
I confess that I am writing this review after only one hearing.

Elgar was a consummate professional composer who wrote music in most genres. His symphonies, concertos and major choral works (for me) express a depth of inspiration that show him to be a truly great composer.

Not only was he inspired, he was also highly technically gifted. Vaughan Williams once said that you could not remove a single instrument from his orchestral writing without losing something vital. This craftsmanship was put to good effect in everything that he wrote, even in his 'lighter' works, like The Starlight Express.

The Starlight Express was a play based on a children's novel by Algernon Blackwood called "A Prisoner in Fairyland". Elgar was commissioned to write the music in November 1915 and one month later, he completed the score for performance - quite an achievement! Furthermore, you don't get the impression that it has been written in a hurry although it must be admitted that he did reuse material that he had used in the past.

The play was not a great success and it closed a month later. The music, however, lives on. Elgar certainly did not let it go to waste and he reused the material in vocal and instrumental form.

I have certainly enjoyed getting to know this work. It has a magical quality about it and is extraordinarily easy on the ear. Vernon Handley was of course a fantastic Elgarian and I can't imagine a better guide through this work. He is aided by two wonderful singers. Derek Hammond Stroud was brilliant character singer who, although a baritone, had a fantastically wide vocal range. He brings wit and sparkle to some rather twee lyrics. Valerie Masterson sings with gorgeous creamy tone - I love her songs on this recording.

Highly recommended.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Starlight Express, 4 Feb 2009
By 
Scribe (Lymm, Cheshire, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Starlight Express (Audio CD)
Who says that Starlight Express was written by Andrew Lloyd Webber? Just about any one you'd ask. They've never heard of this much earler verson by Elgar. I'm afraid it's their loss!
That is if you like a typical Victorian fairy story written be Algernon Blackwood, so out of date compated with today's lifestyle that it might be from a different world.
But add Elgar's music, and you begin to hear something which is magnificient, so fresh and light, and I hate to say it - but typically British.
Spread the word, It's not the Andrew Lloyd Webber version - listen to it!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Elgar - 'THE' Starlight Express, 21 May 2009
By 
Diana Hoy (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Starlight Express (Audio CD)
All arrived as expected. This is the loveliest piece of music. Others ought to experience it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Elgar as you never imagined., 13 Nov 2009
By 
Mr. R. J. Townshend (Northumberland, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Starlight Express (Audio CD)
As part of a U3A course in musical appreciation, we found this work mentioned. It gives an insight into a side of Elgar's music and personality that we did not know existed. Superb programme notes with the recording and very adequate technically. A wonderful surprise - who would have associated the composer of the Enigma Variations with a fantasy ballet ?
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


Most Helpful First | Newest First
ARRAY(0xb51df678)

This product

The Starlight Express
The Starlight Express by Derek Hammond-Stroud (Audio CD - 2004)
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews