Over the past forty years or so any new recording of Sea Pictures has had to stand comparison with Dame Janet Baker's wonderful account with Sir John Barbirolli. If any recording could be described as definitive, then this is surely it! Since then there have been a number of fine performances committed to disc: Bernadette Greevy with Vernon Handley and Felicity Palmer with Richard Hickox for instance. Good though these are in their way, this latest recording from Sarah Connolly and Simon Wright is surely the finest since Dame Janet's. Here is Elgar singing of the highest order: beautiful, thrilling, dramatic and intelligent. Simon Wright's conducting is similarly distinguished and the recorded sound is wonderfully balanced and transparent.
Any new recording of The Music Makers also has to be compared to a classic from the 60's: Sir Adrian Boult's, also with Dame Janet Baker, singing as no one else could. As in Sea Pictures Connolly and Wright excel and this also must be counted as possibly the finest account since the classic Boult / Baker recording. Again the recorded sound is splendid.
It was with some trepidation that I ordered this disc( even given it's extra budget price). I wanted it mainly for the wonderful ""The Music Makers" one of Elgar's best (but somewhat unknown)works. The disc also had (has) "Sea Pictures" on it,which I counted as a bonus,given that I have the definitive version with Janet Baker. Now,"The Music Makers" on this disc is excellent.Clean,clear and conducted with true Elgarian spirit by Simon Wright,who I had never heard of before (but who I WILL look out for again). What must be said is that the "Sea Pictures" is a real discovery.Yes,I have heard Sarah Connolly before(mostly in Handel) but never in Elgar. She certainly equals (but does not outclass,nobody could do that) Janet Baker's version. So, in conclusion,if you want "The Music Makers" combined with "Sea Pictures" featuring a great orchestra/chorus/conductor,and with a First Class Soloist,then at this price you would be mad not to buy it.
Two of my favourite Elgar pieces on the same CD with a good orchestra and for a bargin price - too good to be true?
No. A most enjoyable CD, not the utmost pinnacle in musical performance (try Sir John Barbirolli and Sir Adrian Boult, both with Dame Janet Baker). But a good performance none the less, excellent soloist (first time I've come across her in Elgar) and sensitive conducting make this a must have disk. The coupling of the these two items works well.
Really I got this CD because of the recording of 'The Music Makers', which I had heard on the Proms some years ago, but Elgar being one of my favourite composers came up with this excellent recording of Sea Pictures which I really recommend.
I like Sarah Connolly's voice, and she delivers a very nice version of Sea Pictures. Maybe a little less "personality" than Janet Baker, but the latter is hard to match.
I am less fond of "The Music Makers", not so much because of the performance, as for the fact that I find the piece uninspiring. Nevertheless it is well enough performed and the recording of both pieces is fine.
We are singing this piece soon and I got this with the hope of using it for practice. However it was soo clear and if you like Elgar you will hear small snatches of many pieces throughout. Loved it if you enjoyed Dream of Gerontous or serenade for strings give it a go.