Tippett: A Child of Our Time

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Tippett
LABELS: LSO
ALBUM TITLE: Tippett
WORKS: A Child of Our Time
PERFORMER: Indra Thomas (soprano), Mihoko Fujimura (mezzo-soprano), Steve Davslim (tenor), Matthew Rose (bass); London Symphony Chorus; London SO/Colin Davis
CATALOGUE NO: Live LSO 0670

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From just about every point of view this is an improvement on Colin Davis’s recent Dresden Staatskapelle A Child of Our Time (Profil Hänssler). The recording is slightly warmer, with soloists, chorus and orchestra reasonably well blended, though without muddying the textures. Davis’s direction is still generally spacious, but there is a better sense of pace overall, and some numbers show a big gain in angry momentum – strikingly in ‘Burn down their houses!’ The LSO Chorus is strong on urgency and tragic grandeur, and copes very well with the twisted chromatics of ‘When shall the usurers’ city cease?’ Even finer is the LSO itself: you can feel the intensity right from the opening notes, especially from the strings, and telling phrases or details stand out time and again. The soloists too are more roundly convincing than in the Dresden recording – and yet they still aren’t quite distinctive enough to stand up against the magnificent team on Davis’s 1975 version (now on Decca): Indra Thomas in particular is no match for the glorious Jessye Norman. The 1975 sound has its problems – the orchestral tone is a bit bodiless – but the eloquence and dignity of the conducting, singing and playing make that a paltry objection. Davis’s first recorded attempt at the climactic ‘I would know my Shadow and my Light’ has never been bettered on disc – a great moment, and the culmination of a compelling journey. Stephen Johnson