10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Edward Elgar: The Dream of Gerontius (Audio CD)
I've been back to this recording several times but still have difficulty hearing what others hear, at least in part. The choir are marvellous and Paul Groves is an excellent Gerontius, and there are some beautiful orchestral sounds. However Bryn Terfel is certainly rougher than his considerable best. Alice Coote does some lovely things but there are also times where her sound changes worryingly in mid-phrase, as if she's a different singer. My main problem, however, is that some passages seem to me to operate at a low emotional level, admittedly probably not helped by a low recording level. Elgar wanted Gerontius to be a passionate work and while one doesn't need to go to the theatricality of Barbirolli I'm not sure he intended sections like the exchanges at the beginning of Part 2, which don't quite avoid reminiscence of cocktail party conversation, or episodes, such as the Prelude, where for me the surge of feeling seems to be replaced merely by orchestral weight. All the Halle series of Elgar choral works have had moments where the momentum seemed in danger of faltering (but not, strangely, the orchestral series, which has been outstanding) and those happen here, one at a critical point for me. Just before this was published the Oramo recording came out on the CBSO's own label. While it's also not without imperfections, turn to that and you get the moments of rapt intensity and the swell of Elgarian feeling that picks you up and carries you along with it.