Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Music Webmaster
Len Mullenger:


The Christmas Rose (1919-29)
An opera in three scenes
Miriam - Wendy Eathorne (sop)
Reuben - Eirian James (mezzo)
Shepherd 1 - Maldwyn Davies (ten)
Shepherd 2 - Henry Herford (bar)
Shepherd 3 - David Wilson-Johnson (bass-bar)
Chelsea Opera Group Chorus and Orchestra/Howard Williams
rec 25/26 Sept 1983
PEARL SHECD 9582 [51.53]

Bridge's Christmas opera spans a decade of major change for this composer. The work was largely sketched out the year after the end of the Great War. It was completed and scored by 1929 by which time his earlier 'British pastoral' style (evinced by Summer and The Sea) had given way to the tougher Bergian approach (evident from Enter Spring, String Quartet No. 3).

The bell-echoes of Enter Spring are strong in the Introduction and elsewhere. The music generally carries the stamp of George Butterworth and Bridge's own Ophelia picture - There is a Willow Grows Aslant a Brook. The music also touches the same nerves as Rutland Boughton's Bethlehem (not at all a jarring parallel) as well as various Christmas pieces by Vaughan Williams and Finzi. However it was the vocal technique in Berg's Lulu that was recalled by Scene 2. The choral and orchestral contributions show a sensitive understanding of varied dynamics which makes me want to hear Howard Williams' other Bridge interpretations on CD. I was sorry to have missed the Pearl CD of small orchestral pieces and the Tagore Songs and A Prayer were, sadly, never reissued from LP onto CD.

No text is provided in the otherwise admirable booklet but the singing articulates the words pretty well.

Rob Barnett

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