One of the most grown-up review sites around

2019
50,000 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here

     
  
 

 

International mailing


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

Some items
to consider

TROUBADISC

A most rewarding CD
Renate Eggebrecht violin

REFERENCE RECORDINGS

Nick Barnard review
Michael Cookson review



Acte Prealable returns
with New Releases


Anderson Choral music


colourful and intriguing


Artyomov
Pekarsky Percussion Ensemble


one of Berlioz greatest works


Rebecca Clarke Frank Bridge
High-octane performances


An attractive Debussy package


immaculate Baiba Skride


eloquent Cello Concerto


tension-filled work


well crafted and intense


Laangaard
another entertaining volume


reeking of cordite


Pappano with a strong cast


imaginatively constructed quartets


the air from another planet


vibrantly sung


NOT a budget performance


very attractive and interesting


finesse and stylistic assurance


Support us financially by purchasing this from

Sir Edward ELGAR (1857-1934)
The Music Makers, Op. 69 (1912) [39:05]
Sea Pictures, Op. 37 (1899) [24:47]
Linda Finnie (contralto), London Philharmonic Choir & Orchestra / Bryden Thomson
rec. 1991, St Jude’s Church, Central Square, London. DDD
CHANDOS CHAN9022 [64:04]

The two works here lend themselves ideally to a coupling on CD, although the only other instances I am aware of are the very fine recording by Hickox with Felicity Palmer and the Naxos issue with Sarah Connolly. Of course, Sea Pictures has been recorded by many great mezzos and contraltos, beginning with the first performer, Dame Clara Butt, but for many listeners their introductions to both pieces were the classic versions by Dame Janet Baker and Sir John Barbirolli, in Sea Pictures, and The Music Makers with Sir Adrian Boult. There are many other great interpretations, but most of us are so hopelessly imprinted by hers that, despite what increasingly sounds like dated recording quality, it is hard to listen objectively to any other accounts; her recordings remain definitive.

However, these are indubitably lovely versions: I particularly relish the deep timbre, exemplary diction, seamless breath control and evenness of production of Linnie Finnie’s lovely contralto. Bryden Thomson provides her with deeply sensitive and detailed accompaniments, never rushed and perhaps a tad ponderous for those accustomed to Barbirolli’s brisker manner but suffused with emotion and greatly enhanced by the clarity of the digital sound. Finnie has the power when it is required but frequently employs dynamics shaded down to a ppp; she also has no difficulty with the higher-lying passages which troubled singers such as Kathleen Ferrier

No-one could pretend that Arthur O’Shaughnessy’s ode The Music Makers is poetry of the highest order but it reflected the conflicts in Elgar’s soul and inspired him to compose a fine work, none the worse for its plethora of allusions to his previous works: the “Nimrod” theme from the Enigma Variations, Sea Pictures, the Violin Concerto, the First and Second Symphonies, “Novissima hora est” from Gerontius, and quotations from Rule Britannia and La Marseillaise when referencing Britain’s imperial past. In fact, that’s the point: is it a kind of retrospective and summing up of his life’s work to that point, whereas Sea Pictures was written shortly after Elgar’s first big success, the Enigma Variations. It is given a full-throated performance here; balances between the orchestra and voices is excellent, the organ is audible, the words clear and Finnie’s contribution again deeply felt and moving.

There is another fine recording of The Music Makers by Andrew Davis with Jean Rigby made back in 1993, coupled with some miniature pieces, but this, alongside the Hickox on EMI, is the most attractive one of this particular pairing.

Ralph Moore



We are currently offering in excess of 50,400 reviews


Advertising on
Musicweb


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
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
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

Sample: See what you will get

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