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Birtwistle: Gawain

4.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Performer: François Le Roux, John Tomlinson, Marie Angel, Anne Howells, Alan Ewing, et al.
  • Orchestra: Orchestra of the Royal Opera House
  • Conductor: Elgar Howarth
  • Composer: Harrison Birtwistle
  • Audio CD (15 April 1996)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Collins Classics
  • ASIN: B0000251CY
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 362,100 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Act 1: Ov - The Orch of the ROH/Elgar Howarth
  2. Act 1: The Story Begins 'Night after night' - Marie Angel
  3. Act 1: The Court 'They tire me.' - Richard Greager
  4. Act 1: Three Riddles 'There was a man.' - Omar Ebrahim
  5. Act 1: Arthur's Response 'How can I eat?' - Richard Greager
  6. Act 1: Door Knock, Prophesies and Threats 'This is the hour of legacy or loss.' - Marie Angel/Anne Howells
  7. Act 1: Mystery of the Open Door - The Orch of the ROH/Elgar Howarth
  8. Act 1: Another Riddle 'Something stranger than charity' - Omar Ebrahim
  9. Act 1: Door Knock, Prophesies and Threats 'Now is the hour of legacy or loss' - Marie Angel/Anne Howells
  10. Act 1: Entrance of the Green Knight 'Now I shall test his strength - Marie Angel
  11. Act 1: The Green Knight Rides into the Court - The Orch of the ROH/Elgar Howarth
  12. Act 1: The Green Knight's Challenge 'Which of you is king?' - John Tomlinson
  13. Act 1: The Court's Reaction, Gawain Accepts the Challenge 'God's Name' - Kevin Smith
  14. Act 1:The Raising of the Axe - The Orch of the ROH/Elgar Howarth
  15. Act 1: Time Frozen (Reprise; Prophesies; Riddles; Door Knock) 'This is the moment...' - Marie Angel/Anne Howells
  16. Act 1: Gawain Decapitates The Green Knight 'God's Name!' - Penelope Walmsley-Clark/Kevin Smith/Richard Greager/John Marsden/Omar Ebrahim/Alan Ewing
  17. Act 1: The Severed Head Instructs Gawain 'My Title is Knight of the Green Chapel.' - John Tomlinson
  18. Act 1: The Green Knight Rides Off - The Orch of the ROH/Elgar Howarth
  19. Act 1: The Court's Reaction 'It's nothing.' - Richard Greager
  20. Act 1: Duet: Prophesies and Threats 'Now that you've seen its face.' - Marie Angel/Anne Howells
  21. Tableaux of the Turning of the Seasons and Gawain's Preparation...: Tableau I: Winter: Day - The Royal Opera (Women's) Chor
  22. Tableaux of the Turning of the Seasons and Gawain's Preparation...: Tableau I: Winter:Night... - The Royal Opera (Men's) Chor/John Marsden
  23. Tableaux of the Turning of the Seasons and Gawain's Preparation...: Tableau II: Spring: Day - The Royal Opera (Women's) Chor
  24. Tableaux of the Turning of the Seasons and Gawain's Preparation...: Tableau II: Spring: Night... - The Royal Opera (Men's) Chor/John Marsden
  25. Tableaux of the Turning of the Seasons and Gawain's Preparation...: Tableau III: Summer: Day - The Royal Opera (Women's) Chor
  26. Tableaux of the Turning of the Seasons and Gawain's Preparation...: Tableau III: Summer: Night... - The Royal Opera (Men's) Chor/John Marsden
  27. Tableaux of the Turning of the Seasons and Gawain's Preparation...: Tableau IV: Autumn: Day - The Royal Opera (Women's) Chor
  28. Tableaux of the Turning of the Seasons and Gawain's Preparation...: Tableau IV: Autumn: Night... - The Royal Opera (Men's) Chor/John Marsden
  29. Tableaux of the Turning of the Seasons and Gawain's Preparation...: Tableau V: Winter: Day - The Royal Opera (Women's) Chor
  30. Tableaux of the Turning of the Seasons and Gawain's Preparation...: Tableau V: Winter: Night... - The Royal Opera (Men's) Chor/John Marsden
  31. Tableaux of the Turning of the Seasons and Gawain's Preparation...: Tableau V: Coda... - Marie Angel

Disc: 2

  1. Act 2: Morgan Le Fay's Prediction 'Now with a single step.' - Marie Angel
  2. Act 2: The Journey - The Orch of the ROH/Elgar Howarth
  3. Act 2: Glimpse 'Soon...what you most love.' - John Tomlinson
  4. Act 2: The Journey Continues - The Orch of the ROH/Elgar Howarth
  5. Act 2: A Glimpse of the Future 'Soon...what you want, you'll have.' - Anne Howells
  6. Act 2: The Journey Continues - The Orch of the ROH/Elgar Howarth
  7. Act 2: A Glimpse of the Future 'Soon you'll see its face.' - Anne Howells
  8. Act 2: The Journey Continues - The Orch of the ROH/Elgar Howarth
  9. Act 2: A Glimpse of the Future 'This is the hour of vanity or choice.' - Anne Howells
  10. Act 2: The Journey Continues - The Orch of the ROH/Elgar Howarth
  11. Act 2: Castle de Hautdesert 'Welcome,welcome, welcome.' - John Tomlinson
  12. Act 2: Dance Aria 'Now we shall learn.' - Anne Howells
  13. Act 2: Bertilak de Hautdesert's Welcome and Gawain's Foreboding 'This house is yours.' - John Tomlinson
  14. Act 2: The First Lullaby 'Lie down without fear of the dark.' - Marie Angel
  15. Act 2: The First Hunt and Temptation - The Orch of the ROH/Elgar Howarth
  16. Act 2: An Aside from Morgan Le Fay (1) 'A gift he must not refuse.' - Marie Angel
  17. Act 2: Bertilak de Hautdesert's Return (1) - The Orch of the ROH/Elgar Howarth
  18. Act 2: The Second Lullaby 'Lie down without fear of the dark' - Marie Angel
  19. Act 2: The Second Hunt and Temptation - The Orch of the ROH/Elgar Howarth
  20. Act 2: An Aside From Morgan Le Fay (2) - Marie Angel
  21. Act 2: Bertilak de Hautdesert's Return (2) 'Here's your trophy.' - John Tomlinson
  22. Act 2: The Third Lullaby 'Lie down without fear of the dark.' - Marie Angel
  23. Act 2: The Third Hunt and Temptation - The Orch of the ROH/Elgar Howarth
  24. Act 2: An Aside From Morgan Le Fay (3) - Marie Angel
  25. Act 2: Bertilak de Hautdesert's Return (3) 'I hunted all day.' - John Tomlinson
  26. Act 2: Prophesies and Threats - The Orch of the ROH/Elgar Howarth
  27. Act 2: The Green Chapel 'Fear of Death.' - Francois Le Roux
  28. Act 2: Gawain Faces Death 'Now I acquit myself.' - Francois Le Roux
  29. Act 2: Gawain's Reprieve 'The first blow.' - John Tomlinson
  30. Act 2: The Journey Back Begins - The Orch of the ROH/Elgar Howarth
  31. Act 2: The Court (Riddles and Prophesies) 'Arthur-join us.' - Penelope Walmsley-Clark
  32. Act 2: Gawain's Return - The Orch of the ROH/Elgar Howarth
  33. Act 2: Gawain's Epilogue 'I left this place.' - Francois Le Roux
  34. Act 2: Coda 'Now at the year's dead end.' - Marie Angel

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

For me this is Birtwistle's finest stage work. It's certainly a lot easier to appreciate and enjoy than The Mask of Orpheus, although that work was more groundbreaking. Gawain has a much clearer narrative thread and the music is more visceral. I'd certainly urge anyone who has an interest in modern opera or music to have a listen.

This is the only recording available but hopefully it will eventually be reissued by NMC as they have done with some other important recordings from the defunct Collins Classics label (such as Gawain's Journey, effectively a suite from this opera).

Gramophone magazine wrote the following review when this set came out:

'Gawain marks a climactic point in Sir Harrison Birtwistle's output, combining dramatic strategies from his four earlier stage works with a clearer narrative than any of them and drawing together aspects of his musical language that he had been exploring in concert works for 15 years or more. It is, I think, his finest dramatic work so far, an opera of compelling power and grandeur.

Opera it most certainly is (none of his previous stage pieces had that designation), and its magnificent opening gesture immediately promises that it will be an epic one. The First Act ends with the characteristic Birtwistle device of a fivefold cycle of the seasons, symbolically portraying Gawain's preparation for his confrontation with the Green Knight, while Act 2 turns on a threefold cycle of lullabies, hunting scenes and seductions in which he learns how few of the knightly virtues for which he is famed he in fact possesses. These cyclical structures are not mere machines, nor is the plot a mere pretext for them, as it arguably was in Birtwistle's earlier work, The Mask of Orpheus.
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This is music in the very powerful style that Birtwistle has developed in the last four decades or so. My problem with Gawain: Birtwistle seems to have imagined the entire Gawain story in one mode, which I might call one of ominous dread. The banquet scene doesn't feel festive, the seduction doesn't feel sexy, it's all just pounding, driving fury and foreboding. This is not a problem I have with The Mask of Orpheus, which is much more fully imagined. Nor is it a problem in, say, Earth Dances, which has similar music to that of Gawain, but one doesn't feel that a complex story has been fused into a single impulse.
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THIS SUBLIME OPERA HAS BEEN DELETED FOR YRS IT NEEDS A REISSUE FOR BIRTWHISTLES 80TG .DONT 4GET TO BK UR SEATS AT BARBICAN ON 16 MAY 2014
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