on 16 July 2015
Absolutely jam-packed full of emotional power, Howard Goodall's hauntingly beautiful score vividly conveys the story of a working class family in Cumbria at the turn of the last century (from 1898 through to 1920) whilst chronicling historical events such as the birth of the Trade Union movement and the First World War.
The sparse orchestration (piano, harpsichord, harp, solo trumpet, percussion and violin) suits the subject matter perfectly, conjuring up images of the raw Cumbrian countryside and the struggles of living and working there.
This is an excellent performance by the New Perspectives Theatre Company. The recording quality is perfectly listenable too - I'm listening on fairly expensive Sennheiser headphones, and the recording sounds like an accurate reproduction of a stage performance with good dynamic range too - it's not been compressed into oblivion like a lot of recent CD releases. Yes, the acoustic may sound a bit "dry", but I would expect a similar acoustic if seeing a performance "live" at a small theatre without amplification too, so, to me, the recording is a very good representation of what I'd expect to hear in the theatre, and I personally prefer the realism of this as opposed to something that's been multi-tracked and over-processed.
Compared to the earlier "In Concert" double CD, this recording adds a new song ("Day Follows Day") but omits a couple of songs that were present on the earlier recording ("Who Will You Marry Then?" is notably missing, for example).
on 9 July 2013
This is a great representation of the show musically, vocally and performance-wise, but I cannot help being disappointed by the amateurish quality of the sound recording.
It sounds a little like the microphones were about 10ft away from the performers and the instruments. For a supposedly professional recording, this is rather sub-standard. For me the "hollowness" of the sound does slightly detract, so do consider this before buying....