Aureole etc.




Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line




Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


Some items
to consider


New App by the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra for iOS and Android!

Schumann Symphonies Rattle


Complete Brahms
Bargain price

 


REVIEW


Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Hyperion

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Alto
Arcodiva
Atoll
CDAccord
Cameo Classics
Centaur
Hallé
Hortus
Lyrita
Nimbus
Northern Flowers
Redcliffe
Sheva
Talent
Toccata Classics


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample
 

alternatively
CD: AmazonUK AmazonUS
Download: Classicsonline


Elizabeth MACONCHY (1907-1994)
The Sofa (1956/7) [39:01]
The Departure (1961) [31:00]
Independent Opera at Sadler’s Wells/Dominic Wheeler
rec. Henry Wood Hall, London, 23 November 2007 (The Departure) and 24-25 November 2007 (The Sofa)
Full cast list at end of review
CHANDOS CHAN10508 [70:12]
Experience Classicsonline


Although best known as a composer of instrumental pieces and symphonic works, Elizabeth Maconchy nevertheless wrote a good deal of vocal and choral music. That said, she turned to opera fairly late in her composing career. The operas were one-acters of fairly short duration. The Sofa plays for thirty-nine minutes and The Departure thirty-one minutes. Some time later she completed another, hardly longer opera The Three Strangers based on a short story by Thomas Hardy. It was completed in 1967.

Ursula Vaughan Williams’ libretto for The Sofa is freely adapted from Le Sofa by Crébillon fils. According to Nicola Le Fanu it was RVW who suggested Crébillon’s play. The story is a fairly simple one. Prince Dominic is a hedonist only concerned by enjoying himself in any way. He flirts with Monique and – to put it bluntly – tries to make love to her; but she resists briefly before succumbing. Enters the Prince’s grandmother who is Dominic’s only source of wealth, but she also happens to have magical powers. Scandalised by his behaviour she transforms him into a sofa. Only when a couple makes love on top of him will he be released from his constricting condition. Three young girls enter and sit on the sofa until they are invited by young men to join the dance. The third young man begs Lucille to stay and begins to flirt with her. Dominic thinks that he will soon be freed but the Suitor offers an engagement diamond ring. They leave from the Sofa/Dominic who is left furious and frustrated. Guests enter and wonder where Dominic can be. There is a toast to his return. When the party leaves the room, Monique reappears accompanied by Edward, “an upper-crust English lad” for whom hunting and country life is more important than anything else. Edward seduces Monique on the sofa. There is no interruption, and Dominic is returned to his normal state. The two men confront and Edward is chased away. Monique having been caught flagrante delicto eventually succumbs. Maconchy devised a lovely score for this comic opera in one act with some affectionate parody of, say, Offenbach: in the girls’ trio (Lucille, Yolande and Laura – track 5). The whole is colourfully scored for small orchestral forces.

The Departure, to a libretto by Anne Ridler, is a considerably more serious work and stands in full contrast to the light, often nonchalant character of The Sofa. Julia is seated at her dressing table and hears funeral music from the distance. She looks out of her window and sees her husband Mark shaking hands with her friends. When Mark returns to the house she realises that he cannot see her, and that it was her own funeral that she was observing. She remembers that she was killed in a car crash. Julia sings of their first meeting. Although he is still unable to see her, they sing a love duet remembering the past years. Mark desperately wants Julia to stay but she is now ready for the hereafter and must depart. The music is appropriately darker although some lighter episodes provide for some contrast. It is also rather more austere and sometimes reminds one of RVW’s great masterpiece Riders to the Sea, particularly so in the impressively moving sections featuring the off-stage chorus.

Both casts of mostly young singers obviously relish every ounce of these scores whereas Louise Poole and Håkan Vramsmo are particularly convincing in The Departure. Dominic Wheeler conducts carefully prepared readings and the instrumental ensemble heartily responds to every nuance in the scores. This superb release is a most welcome addition to Maconchy’s discography that should also appeal to anyone interested in 20th century opera. I now hope that The Three Strangers will soon be committed to disc. This beautifully engineered and elegantly produced released will be in my Records of the Year list.

Hubert Culot

The Sofa
Nicholas Sharratt (tenor) - Prince Dominic
Sarah Tynan (soprano) - Monique
Josephine Thorpe (mezzo) - Dominic’s Grandmother
Alinka Kozári (soprano) - Lucille
Anna Leese (soprano) - Laura
Patricia Orr (mezzo) - Yolande
Patrick Ashcroft (tenor) - A Suitor
George von Bergen (baritone) - Edward

The Departure
Louise Poole (mezzo) - Julia
Håkan Vramsmo (baritone) - Mark

 

 

 
 


EXPLORE MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL

Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews

 

Discographies
   Composer
      Composer surveys
   National
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
.
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

Interviews
With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site

Nostalgia

Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Comment
Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure

Announcements

 

Community
Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Reviewers
Pat and present

Helpers invited!

Resources
How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips


Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Publishers
Other links
Newsgroups
Web News sites etc

PotPourri
A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Questionnaire    
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Dictionary
Magazines
Newsfeed  
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools




Return to Review Index

Untitled Document


Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.