Aureole etc.




Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line




Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

REVIEW


Some items
to consider

 


Enjoy the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra wherever you are. App available for iOS and Android


Mahler symphony 6 Nott


Vaughan Williams Symphony 3 etc.


Lyrita New Recording


Lyrita Premiere Recordings

Lyrita 4CDs £16 incl.postage

Lyrita 4CDs £16 incl.postage


Decca Phase 4 - 40CDs


Judith Bailey, George Lloyd


BAX Orchestral pieces


CASKEN Violin Concerto

Schumann Symphonies Rattle


Complete Brahms
Bargain price

 

 

 

 


Buy through MusicWeb
for £12 postage paid World-wide.

Musicweb Purchase button

Sound Samples and Downloads

 

Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976)
Les Illuminations, Op. 18 (1939) [22:20]
Serenade, Op. 31 (1943) [23:20]
Nocturne, Op. 60 (1958) [28:23]
Jerry Hadley (tenor); Anthony Halstead (horn); in Op. 60: Keith Rubach (bassoon); Rachel Masters (harp); Stephen Roberts (horn); Peter Hamburger (timpani); Paul Arden Taylor (cor anglais); Michael Hirst (flute); David Campbell (clarinet)
English String Orchestra/William Boughton
rec. August 1989, Great Hall, University of Birmingham, U.K.
NIMBUS NI5234 [74:13]

Experience Classicsonline



 
American tenor Jerry Hadley made several high-profile recordings, including two with Bernstein, La Bohème and Candide, Britten’s War Requiem with Kurt Masur, and a very fine Verdi Requiem en Telarc, conducted by Robert Shaw. He was also active, though less so, on the recital platform. He withdrew from public performance for some five years due to personal problems, but a few tentative reappearances were followed by his death, in 2007, aged fifty-five, apparently by his own hand.
 
This disc opens with a very fine performance indeed of Les Illuminations. Hadley’s voice is more suited to heroic operatic tenor roles than the majority of those who undertake this work, and a listener’s reaction to this performance may well be coloured by that. The voice and the way it is used is closer to Jon Vickers, say, than it is to Philip Langridge, though it doesn’t really resemble either of them. There are a number of places in the score where the singer is given the option of avoiding very low notes, and Hadley takes advantage of this every time. Better this, I think, than unconvincing noises right at the bottom of the voice. The words are very clear, emphasising his occasionally imperfect French pronunciation. Does he manage to penetrate Rimbaud’s rather effete and languid world? I think he does, particularly in the quieter songs. “Phrase”, against held harmonics in the accompaniment, is beautifully sung, with a particularly affecting use of the head voice, and the following “Antique” is just as fine. An audible intake of breath during two beats of silence in “Royauté” is an example of the singer “acting” the songs rather more than we might be used to. This is not exaggerated though, and if you can take it, this performance will bring much pleasure. The accompaniment is brilliantly executed by the English String Orchestra, and the recording, though quite reverberant, allows us to hear everything we should.
 
The Serenade also receives a very fine performance, though some will feel that Hadley’s rather more robust approach diminishes the nocturnal atmosphere. I was bothered also by one or two aspects of enunciation, with final consonants a particular problem. In the first song, for example, the poet apparently evokes “a monstra selephant”, and later invites us “In the cool air to sit an chat”. But these are minor points in the context of such fine singing, spot-on tuning and fine control of line. Hadley is particularly well suited, perhaps predictably, to the strong central section of the second song – “Blow, bugle, blow” – though the main tempo for this song militates against the Maestoso marking. The last two songs are not quite so convincing: “Hymn” is a little short on lightness of touch, and “Sonnet” doesn’t quite lull us to sleep as it should, the singing just that bit too strong and assertive, even in piano and pianissimo. Anthony Halstead’s contribution is absolutely superb throughout, as fine as I have heard, from his wonderfully atmospheric “Prologue” and “Epilogue” to his hair-raisingly brassy appearance in the middle of “Dirge”. The gaps between each song could be shorter.
 
The scoring of the Nocturne, for strings and seven obbligato instruments, is obviously one reason why the work is the least frequently performed of the three on this disc. It is a difficult work to bring off in concert, too, starting where the Serenade left off – with the singer falling asleep – though the dreams are more sinister, sometimes nearer to nightmare. The atmosphere of the work is more fragile, the scoring sometimes so insubstantial that one wonders how it can work. Hadley’s vocal style is less appropriate here. He finds it difficult, for example, at the outset of the work, to create the necessary nocturnal atmosphere. He seems less at ease throughout, less spontaneous with the words. Moments such as “Unnumbered and enormous polypi” in the second song, and “More serene than a nest of nightingales?” in the next to last, pass by without the extra illumination we are used to from other performances. He is, again, most successful in the more direct, louder songs, and he takes the decision – quite rightly in my view – to respect the notes at the declamation of “Sleep no more!” at the end of the timpani-accompanied Wordsworth setting. The strings play brilliantly throughout, and the individual instrumentalists yield nothing to the competition in their solo passages. Even so, there’s not quite the same vividness as in the composer’s own performance, where you can almost see (or hear) the sub aquatic bubbles created by the sea monster in the third song. Curiously, in a work where all the songs are linked together, they are not separately banded. This is a serious disadvantage.
 
Britten scholars and admirers will never want to be without the composer’s own performances with Peter Pears, and they are available in this same coupling. John Mark Ainsley’s performances on EMI were well received, but I never got on with them. Martyn Hill, on the other hand, on Hyperion, is superb, though some will find Richard Hickox a little too interventionist. Philip Langridge on Naxos is outstanding, the voice unmistakable. These are preferable, I think, to the present disc, but its alternative view is valid and important, and those selfsame scholars and admirers who have not already heard it are encouraged to do so.
 

William Hedley
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 


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
 


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.