Magazine article Gramophone

Elgar from Alumni of Ralph Allwood's Eton Choral Courses

Magazine article Gramophone

Elgar from Alumni of Ralph Allwood's Eton Choral Courses

Article excerpt

Elgar

'Go, song of mine--Part-Songs and Choral Works' Three Motets, Op 2. Three Part-Songs, Op 18--No 2, Love; No 3, My love dwelt in a northern land. Four Choral Songs, Op 53. Five Part-Songs, Opp 71-73. As torrents in summer. Give unto the Lord, Op 74. Go, song of mine, Op 57. I sing the birth. O hearken thou, Op 64. O salutaris hostia. The Prince of Sleep

Rodolfus Choir/Ralph Allwood with Tom Winpenny org

Signum (F) SIGCD315 (76' * DDD * T/t)

Many an aspiring composer today would relish the lucrative market for sheet music afforded by the late 19th and early 20th centuries' passion for choral festivals, glee clubs and suchlike. Elgar certainly knew their worth, as this selection of splendid part-songs--composed over a 40-year period--testifies.

The youthful efforts include the Op 2Latin anthems composed for St George's, Worcester, the most distinguished being Ave maris stella, and two of the Op 18 part-songs. Elgar's setting of Arthur Maquarie's 'Love' is an absolute gem. The demanding Op 53 Choral Songs are strategically placed centre stage: what extraordinary pieces they are, sensational in their adventure. 'There is sweet music' (written in two keys simultaneously) was dedicated to Canon Charles Gorton, Rector of Morecambe and founder of that town's choral festival.

The organ introduction to the 1901 Coronation Offertory O hearken thou picks up seamlessly from the ending of the last of the Op 53 set, the eerily dark 'Owls'. The delicacy (and occasional fragility) of the Rodolfus's young voices make the effect even more poignant. Allwood's tenors glow in 'The Shower' and his basses cope superbly with Elgar's taxingly low pedal notes in 'Deep in my soul'. …

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