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Elgar: Coronation Ode; The Spirit of England
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on May 3, 2000
This CD is an important historical document, and is a beautiful performance of two little-known works of Elgar. Anyone who is interested in the cultural changes brought on by the first World War should hear this disc.
The performances are lovingly and reverantly done, and are well recorded.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on November 25, 2002
I think this is an excellent choral recording but both selections offered suffer from the failure of Chandos to include the full words to the score so that the listener can appreciate, for example, the war poems of Binyon that formed the basis for Elgar's Spirit of England work. This seems to be a common fault today. For a full price recording the program notes should include any libretto. Most might be familiar with the words to Land of Hope and Glory but are unlikely to know any of the other words to the Coronation Ode.I would pay more for that information if cost is the Chandos problem.
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on July 26, 2015
have both the original LPs of this work and this CD. It is regrettable that the words are not contained in the booklet of the CD because the sound is not entirely clear.

Some people have suggested that both works are jigoistic. Having studied the words carefully, I would disagree. Although Elgar appeared to be the quintessential English gent, his musical sensibilities were continental and he had many friends and colleagues in Germany.

The Coronation Ode was written to celebrate the crowning of Edward VII and was written at the time when Elgar was at his most celebrated. The words were written by AC Benson and it was the first vocal setting in which Elgar turned the nobilmente tune from Pomp and Circumstance March number one, "Land of Hope and Glory." Here the melody is not presented in an overly jingoistic way but with great dignity and pride. They are not quite the same words that were later used to this melody. The inner movements of the work are gorgeous. The work overall emphasises peace, lover and faith as much as strength.

The Sprit of England was written during the First World War and is less celebratory. He wrote the second and third parts, To Women and For The Fallen in 1915 and the first movement, The Fourth Of August in 1917. The words are by Lawrence Binyon. The most famous lines come from For The Fallen in which the choir and soloists sing,
"They shall not grow old as we that are left grow old.
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them."
We hear these words ever Remembrance Sunday and they are always moving. Elgar's setting of this poem, and indeed the whole of this movement, which is an extended funeral dirge (but one that uses the more mature style of the violin concerto and Falstaff) is profoundly moving. The rest of the work is equally fine. The opening movement uses material Elgar had previously used in Dream of Gerontius (the Demon's Chorus - Low born clods of brute earth).

When this recording came out in 1977, both works were presented as World Premiere Recordings. I suppose they had previously been regarded as occasional pieces rather than ones that have universal appeal. Having listened to this recording, I would say that they do not deserve their neglect and I am pleased to see that there are other recordings of both works.

I do however recommend this recording very highly. Although I do find the words hard to make out without looking at them written downk the choir and soloists sing with tremendous verve and bite as well as deep sensitivity. I was especially taken by Teresa Cahill's gorgeous silvery singing in The Spirit of England and all four soloists in the Coronation Ode. Anthony Rolfe Johnson and Gwynne Howell were both in fine voice and Anne Collins was marvellously commanding in Land of Hope and Glory.

Wonderful stuff.
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on May 31, 2015
Incredible music! A must for the lover of choral music.
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5 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on October 15, 2007
I cannot agree too strongly with the previous reviewer who complains of the lack of texts with this release. This kind of shoddy documentation is what we have come to expect from Chandos. I bought this disc several years ago and trawl the Internet from time to time in search of the words to the Coronation Ode but so far to no avail. Chandos have no excuse as their author (A.C. Benson) died in 1925 so presumably all his works have long since entered the public domain.
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