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Pristine Audio

Edward ELGAR (1857-1934)
The Dream of Gerontius
Op.38 (1900)
Heddle Nash (tenor)
Gladys Ripley (contralto)
Dennis Noble (baritone)
Norman Walker (bass)
Huddersfield Choral Society
Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/Malcolm Sargent
rec. Huddersfield Town Hall between 8 & 12 April 1945.

PRISTINE AUDIO PACO009 [55.00 + 35.08]

I’ve had my say on this performance in my review of a competing transfer on Pearl, where it’s coupled with Gladys Ripley’s underrated Sea Pictures (see review). Superlatives apart, there is now another competing version of this 1945 Gerontius on Testament, coupled with Tortelier’s first Cello Concerto reading with Sargent conducting and to which I’ve not had access for comparative listening purposes.
 
A new entrant is always welcome and so this one makes three versions of the most incandescent and valuable – and in my view greatest – recording of Gerontius ever committed to disc. Andrew Rose’s Pristine Audio, an increasingly adventurous outfit in the restoration of gems to the catalogue, now adds another complicating factor to the equation, given their price-list and the fact that this is issued without coupling. Go to Pristine Audio’s website for their newly streamlined pricing structure.
 
With regard to the transfers I find that, for my taste, the lower to mid frequency response tends to predominate and the upper frequencies are dampened in the interest of shellac suppression. Nash’s voice does sound rather distant in comparison with the relatively unfiltered Pearl sound and the clarion declamation of his Rouse Thee, My Fainting Soul is distinctly muffled here. The orchestral tone colours are also more muted – note the string separation in Proficiscere, Anima Christiana which is that much more clarified in the Pearl. This applies equally to things like the clarinet writing in the opening of the Second Part or the under-powering Take Me Away.
 
Still there is room for all tastes. Mine are strongly for the Pearl; not having heard the Testament I can’t comment on their work. Pristine Audio offers a versatile policy with regard to up to date technology so that may tempt you.
 
Jonathan Woolf  
 

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Pristine Audio

 

 


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