The Christmas Rose (1919-29)
An opera in three scenes
Miriam - Wendy Eathorne
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
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
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.