Vasily Petrenko, Kathryn Rudge, Royal Liverpool – Elgar – Sea Pictures & The Music Makers (2020)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 01:05:59 minutes | 1,16 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Digital Booklet, Front Cover | © PM Classics Ltd.
Vasily Petrenko and the RLPO continue their critically acclaimed Elgar project with Sea Pictures and The Music Makers, with Kathryn Rudge as soloist. Sea Pictures is one of the composer’s most popular works and as an orchestral song cycle stands alongside those by Mahler and Strauss. The Music Makers however has had a more troubled history. Elgar had worked on it on and off from 1903 and it was premiered in 1912. Both words and music came in for criticism. Elgar quotes from his symphonies, and ‘Nimrod’ as well as other sources. It can be viewed in the same way as ‘Ein Heldenleben’’ though here the composer is not a hero, but a bard.
Conductor Vasily Petrenko has proven to have a really distinctive way with Elgar’s music at the helm of his Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, and even those not on board with his free tempos and perhaps a somewhat overheated approach to Elgar have to concede, at the very least, that it’s never dull. Those interested in sampling this Elgar series might try the Petrenko-Liverpool recording of the Symphony No. 2 in E flat major, Op. 63, instead, but there’s plenty to recommend this pair of vocal works. The orchestral song cycle Sea Pictures, Op. 37, is worth hearing just for the vocal contributions of Kathryn Rudge, whose instrument lies right on the line between contralto and mezzo-soprano. She can stand with the various greats who have recorded this work, including Sarah Connolly (in the same pairing as is heard here), Janet Baker, and Clara Butt. However, the real attraction is The Music Makers, Op. 69, a kind of choral cantata that seems to have reflected Elgar’s inner musical dictates in a way: he wrote it with no particular commission or performance occasion in mind. It is a setting of a poem by Arthur O’Shaughnessy about musical artists (“We are the music makers / And we are the dreamers of dreams”). Elgar quotes his own music and veers from dreamy to splashy. The work is not often performed, but Petrenko finds the key: to embrace the rather unbalanced quality of the music and its powerhouse, emotionally triumphant finale, which is right in this conductor’s wheelhouse. For digital purchasers in need of a state-of-the-art Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1, Petrenko winds down the program with one. This album will fill a hole on many Elgar shelves or hard drives.
Edward Elgar (1857 – 1934) :
Sea Pictures, Op.37
01. I. Sea Slumber Song 05:13
02. II. In Haven 01:52
03. III. Sabbath Morning at Sea 05:24
04. IV. Where Corals Lie 03:43
05. V. The Swimmer 05:50
The Music Makers, Op. 69
06. I. Introduction 03:19
07. II. We Are the Music Makers 03:56
08. III. We, in the Ages Lying 03:59
09. IV. A Breath of Inspiration 04:18
10. V. They Had No Vision Amazing 07:41
11. VI. But We, with our Dreaming and Singing 03:27
12. VII. For We are Afar with Dreaming 02:25
13. VIII. All Hail! We Cry to the Corners 09:12
14. Pomp and Circumstance Marches, Op. 39 No. 1 05:40