Elgar: The Dream of Gerontius

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Elgar
LABELS: Warner
ALBUM TITLE: The Dream of Gerontius
WORKS: The Dream of Gerontius
PERFORMER: Philip Langridge, Catherine Wyn Rogers, Alastair Miles; BBC Symphony Chorus & Orchestra/Andrew Davis.
CATALOGUE NO: 3984-22351-2
PRESENTATION: *****

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This is a very good Gerontius. Davis’s

long-standing love of the work is

evident at just about every point,

but he keeps cool-headed enough to

shape the drama convincingly. The

climactic ‘Praise to the Holiest’ takes

a little while to acquire the requisite

grandeur and sweeping eloquence,

but it gets there in the end. And in

the pause at the end of that great hymn Davis gives the St Paul’s

acoustic enough time to resonate

fully before picking up the musical

story again – a moment to relish.

The solo team is terrific. Langridge

is an absorbing Gerontius, bringing

extraordinary depth to the minutest

details of characterization. Catherine

Wyn Rogers is tonally glorious as the

Angel. Miles is more commanding

still than in the Colin Davis LSO

Live version (reviewed on p79).

In terms of presentation this is an

old-fashioned concert film in the best

sense: close-ups on players, soloists,

conductor and architectural details

judiciously chosen. James Naughtie’s

introductions are an almost ideal

combination of informality and

seriousness. The recording too

maintains a fine balance: enabling

one to hear the music clearly enough

while allowing the cathedral’s own

contribution to be heard and felt too.

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