Elgar: The Black Knight; The Saga of King Olaf (excerpts); Spanish Serenade; The Snow; Fly, singing bird

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Elgar
LABELS: EMI British Composers
WORKS: The Black Knight; The Saga of King Olaf (excerpts); Spanish Serenade; The Snow; Fly, singing bird
PERFORMER: Teresa Cahill (soprano), Philip Langridge (tenor), Brian Rayner Cook (bass)Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra & Choir/Charles Groves; LPO& Choir/Vernon Handley
CATALOGUE NO: CMS 5 65104 2 DDD (1984/87)
Elgar’s two cantatas based on Longfellow date from the 1890s, and offer previews of a talent for vocal writing which flowered to maturity at the end of the decade in Gerontius. The Black Knight is the more compact work; King Olaf ’s narratives are too sprawling for it to make a coherent musical impact, though the outer sections are impressive. Langridge is well-suited to the title role, and Handley secures good playing from the London Philharmonic, but the choral contributions are pretty weak. Stephen Maddock

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