52,943 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Editor in Chief: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider

£11 post-free anywhere
Normal service resumed


100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas

Bruno Monteiro (violin)

More Preludes to Chopin
Kenneth Hamilton (piano)

Gloriæ Dei Cantores


Recordings of the Month


Beethoven Piano Concertos

Stradal Transcriptions

LOSY Note d’oro

Scarlatti Sonatas Vol 2



Feinberg Piano Sonatas

Schoenberg Violin Concerto

Early Keyboard

Nun Danket Alle Gott
Now Everyone Thanks God



Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS
Sound Samples & Downloads

 Robert ALDRIDGE (b. 1954)
Elmer Gantry - Opera in Two Acts (2007)
Libretto by Herschel Garfein based on the novel by Sinclair Lewis
Keith Phares (baritone) – Elmer Gantry; Patricia Risley (mezzo) – Sharon Falconer; Vale Rideout (tenor) – Frank Shallard; Frank Kelley (tenor) – Eddie Fislinger; Heather Buck (soprano) – Lulu Baines; Florentine Opera Chorus
Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra/William Boggs
rec. Marcus Center for the Performing Arts, Uihlein Hall, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA, 19 -21 March 2010
libretto in English enclosed
NAXOS 8.669032-33 [69:24 + 72:14]

Experience Classicsonline

Sinclair Lewis’s novel, published in 1927, is a satire on preachers in first and foremost Kansas City, where he studied the so-called “Sunday School Meetings”. Elmer Gantry is an athlete who is quite keen on women during his college days but then becomes a lawyer and in the end a Methodist minister. He is manager for Sharon Falconer, an itinerant evangelist, who is killed in a fire. His life is surrounded by a lot of downfall, injury and even deaths of important people. There is a fire where, Sharon and her followers are immolated, but he ends up in a new career. I haven’t read the novel but the opera seems to follow the original story very closely – though it should be added that Garfield used only parts of the novel for the libretto.
Elmer Gantry is a hypocrite, but, as Richard Dyer says in his liner notes, ‘a well-meaning hypocrite’. The novel was controversial, became a bestseller but was also banned in some cities. Today it is topical, just as Laurent Petitgirard’s Guru is topical in its way. In both cases fanaticism is a central theme but in Elmer Gantry it is more business-like.
Dramatically it is tautly constructed and, I believe, well conceived for the stage. It works well also as a listening experience and with the libretto printed in the booklet it is easy to follow the unfolding of the story. A strongly contributing factor is the music. Modern opera is not necessarily difficult opera, as has become ever more obvious during the last two decades. Composers like Glass, Adams, Heggie and several others have returned to melody as a fundamental building-block. Aldridge’s aim was to create music that ‘reflects the religious and popular music of the period of the story’ as Richard Dyer says in his extensive notes. You will find hymns, gospel songs, marches, dances; influences from Gershwin, film music and Broadway isn’t too far away. These are all inspirations; there is only one ‘loan’ and that is the hymn What a Friend We Have in Jesus. Everything else is original music by Aldridge. The opera is divided into thirteen scenes, some of them quite long, and an epilogue. Within those scenes there are recitative-like sections, where the music follows the text very closely and sensitively. Often the recitative is almost imperceptibly condensed into arias or duets. The first scene in act II (CD 2 tr 2) illustrates this very well. It’s a close to quarter-of-an-hour-long duet between Elmer and Sharon. This is music-drama at its best with Sharon’s solo marvellously beautiful and the duet that follows is a stroke of genius. I only wish that the applause after Sharon’s final words And be at rest had been edited out. Now it comes as a slap in the face.
It seems that the musical inspiration flowed at its richest in the second act – but it may also be that I had assimilated the idiom more completely. Anyway the Broadway-style marching music of the next scene with wonderful rapport between solo voices and chorus is totally captivating. Frank’s long aria that follows (CD 2 tr. 4) is another highlight, as is the trio (CD 2 tr 5). As a matter of fact this opera is a pleasure to hear from beginning to end.
None of the singers were known to me but they are all first class in every respect and deeply involved. Garfein and Aldridge explicitly wrote this opera for ‘American singing-actors, who know how to internalize, then deliver, their own yeasty language, and how to sing many different kinds of American music’ (Richard Dyer again). This is graphically brought over to the listener even without the visual impression. The chorus and orchestra are excellent. William Boggs knows the score inside out, having also conducted the premiere in Nashville in November 2007. The recording can’t be faulted and I can heartily endorse the opinion of a man after the premiere turning to his wife, saying: ‘This is better than any Broadway show’.
Göran Forsling

see also review by John Sheppard


































































Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.