Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Elgar - The Dream of Gerontius / Philip Langridge Catherine Wyn-Rogers Alastair Miles Andrew Davis BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus St Paul's Cathedral|
Actors: Elgar, Langridge, Rogers, BBC Opera
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
Edward Elgar?s great choral work, in the magnificent setting of St Paul?s Cathedral in London, formed part of the BBC?s 75th anniversary celebrations. It is a towering work, a setting of Cardinal Newman?s poem about the de... more »
Get it, there probably won't be another!
Ian C. Punter | Thailand | 09/06/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Sir Adrian Boult considered 'Gerontius' not to be on the same level as 'The Apostles' and 'The Kingdom', but the former's popularity has always exceeded the latters' by far, and I think quite a few Elgar-lovers will find his judgement a little perverse, however much Boult may arguably have been the 'Elgarian' of all time, and however fine those two big choral works are. Where 'Gerontius' is concerned,
there is no competition to consider on the audio-VISUAL side, so it is a blessing that this DVD release will take some beating, in the extremely unlikely event that some rival should appear! (There was talk of some 'historic' film or tape existing of Boult performing the work, probably at the Three Choirs Festival, but I know no more than that).
I'm not always in tune with what Andrew Davis does, but I certainly appreciate: a) his huge repertoire and b) his 'way' with Elgar. (I disagree profoundly with some of the adverse comments made about his 'Enigma Variations' DVD.)
I've heard, among many others, two impressive performances of 'Gerontius' many years ago by, of all people, Svetlanov, - and we know about the advocacy of Elgar by Barenboim, Previn, Haitink, Solti, Slatkin et al. This is a work that can speak to all people, on a universal theme! It's singularly 'un-British' compared with many of Elgar's other works.
This performance was taped in St Paul's Cathedral as part of the BBC's 75th anniversary celebrations, and Bob Coles' direction, for a start, as on so many other DVDs, is immaculate....(maybe it had to be with so many of the 'Beeb''s top brass in the audience!). The visuals of the cathedral are gently inserted, with pleasing and natural camera moves, and St Paul's looks more magnificent than I ever remember, - (I'm now an 'expat'). My only quibble, as ever, is that I don't need to see the conductor's face in such close-up as to lose his arms and baton, - it's like the classic mistake of framing above the dancer's legs. In the same way, when a choir of perhaps 200 is singing, I don't need to go so close as to only see maybe one, two or three singers. ('Gosh, look at those eyebrows, why doen't he trim them?!!'). I exempt from this niggle, the situation where the choir, or the conductor, or the orchestra is the subject of a documentary, and as a result are perhaps the focus of interest over and above the work they are performing. I have to say this is no more than a personal 'niggle' which I find myself applying to practically every classical VHS/DVD I possess.
The performance is excellent, with Andrew Davis taking advantage of the full reverb of the cathedral....(I wonder what rehearsal time they
get in a place that's generally open to the public?) In the wonderful prelude to the piece you can see Davis 'in tune' with the building's spaciousness, holding his next beat until the sound fades. No worries either about audience or St Paul's proximity to London traffic, - I can recall noting neither cough nor irate driver!
Philip Langridge, as ever, is superb. What an artiste, whether in Janacek, (Abbado's 'House of the Dead', DVD soon please!) or Glyndebourne's 'Jenufa', or 'Peter Grimes' or..... Arguably not the greatest voice around, per se, but when you see and hear his performances, you wish for no other in his place! The climactic 'Take me away' is breathtaking. Catherine Wyn Rogers and Alastair Miles are excellent too. Gerontius lovers all have their favourite singers in the work, as I do, but at present this DVD is a 'one-off' and I can't see anyone being other than totally satisfied by presentation, direction and performance. One to return to many times. Nice little intro too, with James Naughtie giving a little bit of the history of the work (with very nicely shot visuals).
A first rate Gerontius, regardless of format
Orgelbear | 01/04/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This DVD is in the top rank of "Gerontius" recordings, regardless of format. It earns a place on the shelf beside the CDs of classic studio versions by Barbirolli, Boult, and Britten.
Davis commands a monumental and profound performance, at turns terrifying, noble, and warmly personal. His absolute mastery over the large ensemble in the rolling, reverberant acoustics of St. Paul's Cathedral is an impressive technical accomplishment. Davis plays to the gigantic space, but is not limited by it. He expertly handles dramatic pacing and the builds to climaxes. The orchestra and chorus ably follow him and sound great. Tenor Philip Langridge is superb as Gerontius, creating a detailed and introspective characterization of Everyman in the face of death.
The BBC recording engineers have performed a miracle, capturing orchestral and choral detail while preserving the room's inherent bass heaviness and the sense of enormous space around the live performance. (The English subtitles do come in handy on occasion.) The camera work focuses mostly on the performers, sometimes very close-up, with an occasional look at some of St Paul's interior details. The sound and video engineers have provided an insider's perspective on the intimate moments of creation that go into an event of such heroic scale.