COMPOSERS: Edward Elgar
ALBUM TITLE: Elgar: Part-songs and choral works
WORKS: Part-songs and choral works: Go, song of mine; As torrents in summer; O salutaris hostia; My love dwelt in a northern land; Four Choral Songs, Op. 53, etc
PERFORMER: The Rodolfus Choir/Ralph Allwood
CATALOGUE NO: SIGCD315
The combination of Ralph Allwood and the Rodolfus Choir usually means quality. It does again here in this excellently sung recital of Elgar choral pieces. It’s hard, in fact, to imagine Go, song of mine, the opening item, done better. Allwood punctuates the phrasing of the poem with rare intelligence, securing pleasing unanimity of end-consonants without over-drilling the singers.
Strong dynamic contrasts enhance the setting’s overall impact, the juxtaposition of thrillingly sustained top notes from the sopranos with an underlay of staccato phrasing in the men’s voices, on the climactic phrase ‘To seek its Maker’, being specially well prepared and executed. When simplicity of utterance is necessary, the Rodolfus deliver it unfussily: Ave, verum corpus is beguilingly pure-toned and artlessly affecting.
By those very high standards it’s possible to feel There is sweet music and SIGCD315 are just a shade muted and under-projected, but the effect is probably intentional. There’s no such reticence with O wild west wind!, where the gusty swirl of Shelley’s verse is vigorously re-created in this performance.
The booklet note is detailed, but impenetrably laid out. The sound is ideally balanced. A fine introduction to a still under-appreciated area of Elgar’s output.