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SIR EDWARD ELGAR
Caractacus, Op.35 (1898)
Cantata in Six Scenes for Soprano, Tenor, Baritone, Bass, Chorus and Orchestra
Libretto by Harry Arbuthnot Acworth (1849-1933)
COMPACT DISC ONE
Total time: 22:58
Chorus: 'Watchmen, alert!' -
Caractacus: 'Watchmen, alert! the King is here' -
Eigen: 'Father!... Sire and King' -
with Caractacus, Orbin, Sentries
Eigen: 'At eve to the greenwood, we wander'd away' -
Orbin: 'On the ocean and the river' -
with Caractacus, Eigen
Spirits of the Hill: 'Rest, weary monarch'
Total time: 23:54
Arch-Druid: 'Tread the mystic circle round' -
with Druids, Druid Maidens
Arch-Druid, Druids, Druid Maidens: 'Lord of dread and lord of pow'r' -
Arch--Druid: 'Bard, what read ye in the field...?'-
with Orbin, Chorus, Druids, Druid Maidens, Caractacus
Caractacus: 'Leap to light, my brand of fight' -
with Soldiers, Orbin, Druids, Arch-Druid
Druids, Druid Maidens: 'Hence, ere the Druid's wrath is woke'
with Orbin, Soldiers
Total time: 14:24
Introduction 'Woodland Interlude' (Orchestra) -
Chorus: 'Come! beneath our woodland bow'rs' -
Eigen: 'O'er-arch'd by leaves the streamlet weaves' -
Orbin: 'last night beneath the sacred Oak' -
Chorus: 'Come! beneath our woodland bow'rs'
with Orbin, Eigen
Total time: 61:12
COMPACT DISC TWO
Total time: 11:48
Maidens: 'Wild rumours shake our calm retreat' -
Eigen: 'When the glow of the evening had died from the hill' -
Soldiers: 'We were gather'd by the river' -
Caractacus, Chorus: 'O my warriors, tell me truly'
Scene 5. The Severn
Druid Maidens: 'Captive Britons, see them! Hark' -
with A Bard
Total time: 23:54
Processional Music (Orchestra) -
Chorus: 'The march triumphal thunders' -
Claudius: 'Unbind his hands, silence the trumpets' -
Caractacus: 'Heap torment upon torment, woe on woe' -
with Eigen, Orbin
Chorus: 'Slay the Briton' -
Caractacus: 'I plead not for myself' -
with Orbin, Eigen, Chorus, Claudius
Eigen, Orbin, Caractacus: 'Grace from the Roman!' -
Chorus: 'The clang of arms is over'
Severn Suite, Op.87 (1930)
for Brass Band
Orchestrated 1931-32 by the Composer
Introduction. Worcester Castle. Pomposo -
Toccata. Tournament. Allegro molto -
Fugue. The Cathedral. Andante -
Minuet. Commandery. Moderato -
Total time: 58:01
Solo: Judith Howarth soprano
Solo: Arthur Davies tenor
Solo: David Wilson-Johnson baritone
Solo: Stephen Roberts bass
Solo: Alistair Miles bass
Stephen Westrop - chorus master
Conductor: Richard Hickox
Re-issued from a 1992 recording, when Richard Hickox was Associate Guest Conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra, this Elgar’s Caractacus has much to offer.
The piece itself, which Elgar composed for the 1898 Leeds Festival, exudes his power of invention and luminous skills at orchestration, foreshadowing his next project, the masterful ‘Enigma’ Variations.
A Gramophone review affirmed that ‘There can be nothing but praise for Richard Hickox’s fluent, sensitive direction and the enthusiastic, full-blooded backcloth provided by the LSO. Bouquets, too, for the London Symphony Chorus whose terrific unanimity of attack, sensitivity to dynamics and wonderfully true intonation are something to marvel at. In the title-role David Wilson-Johnson makes a nobly sonorous showing, a pure-toned Judith Howarth is touchingly vulnerable as Caractacus’s daughter, Eigen, and Arthur Davies sings with unaffected sincerity in the part of Orbin, her minstrel lover. A typically ripe, wide-ranging Chandos recording into the bargain.’
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Chandos Records is one of the world's premier classical music record companies, best known for its ground breaking search for neglected musical gems. The company has pioneered the idea of the 'series' and proudly includes series of such composers as Prokofiev, Tchaikovsky, Parry, Walton, Grainger, Berkeley and Bridge. Renowned for its superb sound quality, Chandos has won many prestigious awards for its natural sound.