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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A major discovery, 22 Nov. 2010
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Dr. Rodney S. Newton (East Barnet, Herts, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Queen of Cornwall (Audio CD)
For so many decades, Rutland Boughton's operatic works have lain neglected, save for 'The Immortal Hour', and at last we can make an objective judgement about one of his strongest scores, thanks to Mike Dutton and the superb team he assembled to bring us the first recording of 'The Queen of Cornwall'. The libretto, a mixture of Thomas Hardy's play of the same name and some of his poems, does sound a little quaint at this distance in time (but no worse than William Lloyd's libretti for the operas of his son, George). However, for this listener at least, the power of Boughton's music conquers all and leads one to forgive the literary shortcomings. The cast is perfect, with Heather Shipp an imperious and passionate Iseult the Fair and Joan Rogers her formidable rival for the love of the fickle, selfish Tristram, sung with sensitivity by Jacques Imbrailo (his gentle ballad at the end of Act One being especially touching). Lovers of Wagner's 'Tristan' need fear no pale imitation, as Boughton's work is of a very different nature. King Mark here is no sorrowful, noble cuckold, but a boorish bully (Boughton's Communist sympathies made the Arthurian kings and knights a pretty dislikable lot on the whole), and this is underlined by Neil Davies in his excellent portrayal. Ronald Corp welds the whole thing together skilfully and achieves a great sweep to the drama, with the New London Chorus and Orchestra responding to Boughton's effective writing with understanding and commitment. This is a major discovery and one that prompts a huge vote of thanks to all concerned. Unreservedly recommended.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding recording premiere, 8 Nov. 2010
By 
Albion (Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Queen of Cornwall (Audio CD)
This, Dutton's first full-blown complete opera (or music drama) recording is a revelation. Rutland Boughton (1878-1960) is best known for his gossamer-spun score 'The Immortal Hour', majestically recorded on Hyperion in 1983. The same company also recorded 'Bethlehem' but it has taken a long time to gain a hearing for another of his strongest scores, a setting of Thomas Hardy's re-telling of the Tristan and Isolde legend.

Written during 1923 and 1924, and adapted from the original play with the author's full approval, 'The Queen of Cornwall' is a dark and brooding drama played out against the backdrop of the sea-ravaged coast around Tintagel. King Mark is jealous of his wife Iseult's love for Sir Tristram and this leads to the tragic denouement familiar to many. From the opening choral depiction of the wind and waves to the closing hushed reunion of Tristram and Iseult in death the tension never lets up and Boughton's command of his drama is superb. The musical style is much more chromatic than 'The Immortal Hour', 'Bethlehem' or any of his three symphonies and is carried along mostly in parlando, leavened with the occasional 'set-piece' quasi-folk setting (for which Boughton utilised a number of lyrics culled from Hardy's poetry). The orchestration is superb, as you would expect from this composer and the choral writing highly imaginative.

This is a world premiere recording and, as such, must stand or fall by its fidelity to the spirit and letter of the score. On all counts it may be judged a triumph. The four principal characters, King Mark (Neal Davies), his Queen Iseult (Heather Shipp), Sir Tristram (Jacques Imbrailo) and his wife Iseult of Brittany (Joan Rodgers) are an outstanding team who realise the drama inherent in the music to create vivid characterisations. Ronald Corp guides the New London Orchestra heroically through a highly complicated score without any sense that this is, in fact, a work virtually unknown to anybody today. The Overture (a slightly wayward concoction written as an afterthought in 1926) is sensibly omitted and each of the two acts is alloted its own disc. A booklet with full libretto and fascinating pictures from the first Glastonbury performances crowns this splendid release.
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5.0 out of 5 stars NOT TO BE MISSED, 26 Jan. 2014
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This review is from: Queen of Cornwall (Audio CD)
I CANNOT FAULT THIS RECORDING IN ANY WAY.THE ORCHESTRA AND SINGERS ARE TOP NOTCH.RONALD CORP HAS DONE A WONDERFUL JOB ON THIS OBSCURE BRITISH MUSIC DRAMA.WELL DONE! 10\10
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Queen of Cornwall
Queen of Cornwall by Rutland Boughton (Audio CD - 2011)
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