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Cat. No. CHAN 10120(2) Price: £4.5 No. of discs: 2
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CHAN 10120 - Vaughan Williams: The Poisoned Kiss
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Available From: 13 October 2003
"The libretto for The Poisoned Kiss originated in a short story, The Poison Maid, by Dr Richard Garnett, which was, in turn, derived from a short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Richard Garnett’s piece takes up Hawthorne’s notion of a beautiful maiden who lives on poisons, but invests it with a gentle irony that is both engaging and humorous. The story ends happily for ‘the kiss of love is the remedy for every poison’.

Vaughan Williams began writing The Poisoned Kiss, his fourth opera, in 1927. He was also working on Sir John in Love and had begun sketching the first scenes of Job. He was at the height of his musical powers, yet The Poisoned Kiss has remained unperformed, unrecorded and unknown.

The reason for this neglect lies mainly in the rather dated text and the lengthy sections of spoken dialogue (some of which is omitted in this recording). It did not help that the composer and the librettist were uncertain about the balance between comedy and drama in the opera, a dilemma that led to major revisions of the work by Vaughan Williams in 1936 and again in 1956–57. In the final version the composer’s lyricism dominates the humour and we are treated to an extraordinary wealth of expressive and heart-felt music which does not deserve to be ignored.

"
Reviews

The music is enchanting, a mixture of parodies together with waltzes and tangos. An inspiration seems to have been The Beggars Opera and of course folk-song. It is VW at his most lyrical and endearing… The cast give every indication of having enjoyed their acquaintance with the score… The recording is superb and Chandos are to be thanked for filling the major gap in the VW discography.
Sunday Telegraph

'Praise to the conductor Richard Hickox and the orchestra, who give this work an ideal performance, right from the sensational overture.'
American Record Guide

'Hickox has already shown that The Pilgrim's Progress and Sir John in Love can work and here brings out the best in The Poisoned Kiss.'
BBC Music Magazine

A new record of Vaughan Williamss Falstaffian opera makes one wonder why it has been so neglected… An absolute delight.
BBC Music Magazine ‘Pick of the Month’ on CHAN 9928(2) (Sir John in Love)

''but meanwhile, Chandos' recording should provide hours of pleasure and not merely to Vaughan Williams 'train-spotters'. A sumptuous Chandos recording as usual.'
Gramophone

…Hickoxs performance is a convincing affirmation of the scores power, and certainly outdoes the only other complete recording in the catalogue…
The Guardian ‘Classical CD of the Week’ on CHAN 9625(2) (The Pilgrim’s Progress)

Praise to the conductor Richard Hickox and the orchestra, who give this work an ideal performance, right from the sensational overture.
American Record Guide

…exhilarating recording…
BBC Music Magazine ‘The Best CDs of 1998’ on CHAN 9625(2) (The Pilgrim’s Progress)

'but meanwhile, Chandos recording should provide hours of pleasure and not merely to Vaughan Williams train-spotters. A sumptuous Chandos recording as usual.
Gramophone

Hickox has already shown that The Pilgrims Progress and Sir John in Love can work and here brings out the best in The Poisoned Kiss.
BBC Music Magazine

'The music is enchanting, a mixture of parodies together with waltzes and tangos. An inspiration seems to have been The Beggar's Opera and of course folk-song. It is VW at his most lyrical and endearing… The cast give every indication of having enjoyed their acquaintance with the score… The recording is superb and Chandos are to be thanked for filling the major gap in the VW discography.'
Sunday Telegraph

The Opera may have a rather twee feel, but there is too much good music to leave it neglected. Hickox makes as good a case for the piece as can be imagined. Well worth exploring.'
Gramophone Editor's Choice

The Opera may have a rather twee feel, but there is too much good music to leave it neglected. Hickox makes as good a case for the piece as can be imagined. Well worth exploring.
Gramophone 'Editor's Choice'

 

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