George Lloyd

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: George Lloyd
LABELS: Albany
WORKS: John Socman (excerpts)
PERFORMER: Thomas Booth, David Wilson-Johnson, Janice Watson, Diana Montague, Michael George, Malcolm RiversLondon Voices, Philharmonia Orchestra/George Lloyd
The original early-Fifties Carl Rosa production of John Socman was so ineptly handled that Lloyd was put off opera entirely for 18 years. Thanks to Albany, he can now show us how he intended it to be. Alas, funds only permitted the recording of highlights and some important scenes are missing (sponsorship might permit completion). However, the 79 minutes of music here demonstrate Lloyd’s impressive operatic skills (much advanced since the early Iernin, despite a few less-inspired moments), particularly his strength in conveying meaning and character through the vocal line as well as through the orchestra. The opera is set in medieval Wiltshire after Agincourt. Ageing Socman is bent on seducing the young Sybil away from her archer lover Richard and threatens to have her father burnt for heresy if she will not marry him. David Wilson-Johnson is excellent in the title role, gently pleading, then becoming almost Scarpia-like in his malevolence. His long Act II duet with Janice Watson, a fine, assertive Sybil, is an expressive tour de force. Thomas Booth’s Richard is strong and confident. Lloyd, as conductor, secures colourful and committed contributions from all his singers and the Philharmonia is in good form. Ian Lace