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Sullivan: The Golden Legend Import

4.3 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Import, October 9, 2001
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Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. The Golden Legend, cantata for chorus & orchestra: Prologue
  2. The Golden Legend, cantata for chorus & orchestra: Nocte surgentes
  3. The Golden Legend, cantata for chorus & orchestra: Scene 1.
  4. The Golden Legend, cantata for chorus & orchestra: Scene 1.: 'I cannot sleep'
  5. The Golden Legend, cantata for chorus & orchestra: Scene 1.: 'All haie, Prince Henry'
  6. The Golden Legend, cantata for chorus & orchestra: Scene 1.: 'Behold it here'
  7. The Golden Legend, cantata for chorus & orchestra: Scene 1.: 'Drink, drink, and thy soul shall sink'
  8. The Golden Legend, cantata for chorus & orchestra: Scene 2.
  9. The Golden Legend, cantata for chorus & orchestra: Scene 2.: 'Slowly, slowly up the wall'
  10. The Golden Legend, cantata for chorus & orchestra: Scene 2.: Evening Hymn
  11. The Golden Legend, cantata for chorus & orchestra: Scene 2.: 'Who was it said 'Amen'?'
  12. The Golden Legend, cantata for chorus & orchestra: Scene 2.: 'I heard Him call'
  13. The Golden Legend, cantata for chorus & orchestra: Scene 2.: 'My Redeemer and my Lord'
  14. The Golden Legend, cantata for chorus & orchestra: Scene 2.: 'My life is little'
  15. The Golden Legend, cantata for chorus & orchestra: Scene 3.: 'Onward and onward'
  16. The Golden Legend, cantata for chorus & orchestra: Scene 3.: 'Here am I too'
  17. The Golden Legend, cantata for chorus & orchestra: Scene 3.: 'It is the sea'
  18. The Golden Legend, cantata for chorus & orchestra: Scene 3.: 'The night is calm and cloudless'

Disc: 2

  1. The Golden Legend, cantata for chorus & orchestra: Scene 4.: 'My guests approach'
  2. The Golden Legend, cantata for chorus & orchestra: Scene 4.: Prince Henry enters
  3. The Golden Legend, cantata for chorus & orchestra: Scene 4.: 'O pure in heart'
  4. The Golden Legend, cantata for chorus & orchestra: Scene 4.: 'Weep not, my friends'
  5. The Golden Legend, cantata for chorus & orchestra: Scene 4.: 'Come with me, this Way'
  6. The Golden Legend, cantata for chorus & orchestra: Scene 5.
  7. The Golden Legend, cantata for chorus & orchestra: Scene 5.: 'Virgin, who lovest the poor'
  8. The Golden Legend, cantata for chorus & orchestra: Scene 6.
  9. The Golden Legend, cantata for chorus & orchestra: Scene 6.: 'We are alone'
  10. The Golden Legend, cantata for chorus & orchestra: Scene 6.: 'Dear Elise'
  11. The Golden Legend, cantata for chorus & orchestra: Chroral Epilogue.


Product Details

  • Performer: Janice Watson, Mark Wilde, Jean Rigby, Jeffrey Black, Jonathan Brown, et al.
  • Orchestra: New London Orchestra
  • Conductor: Ronald Corp
  • Composer: Arthur Sullivan
  • Audio CD (October 9, 2001)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Hyperion UK
  • Run Time: 95.00 minutes
  • ASIN: B00005NUPB
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #340,669 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By F. Behrens HALL OF FAME on December 7, 2001
Format: Audio CD
One of the often repeated stories about Arthur Sullivan is that he was never satisfied with his reputation resting on his works with Gilbert and that he yearned to be known as the composer of "serious music." And yet the only non-"G&S" works by the latter that many would recognize are "Onward, Christian Soldiers" and "The Lost Chord." Much of his non-vocal music is available on Marco Polo label, but his cantatas and oratorios have been under-recorded to say the very least. That is why the Hyperion release of the complete score to his "The Golden Legend" (CDA67280) will do much to set his spirit's mind at rest.

Based as it is on a very long poem by Longfellow, the libretto Sullivan set to music is little more than scenes from the original, much as Berlioz' "La Damnation de Faust" is just a relatively short string of episodes from the Goethe play. In fact, even the plots are similar. Here Prince Henry (Mark Wilde, tenor) is being stalked by Lucifer (Jeffrey Black, baritone) in many guises. Just as in the the plots of "Alceste" and "The Flying Dutchman," there is a young woman, Elsie (Janice Watson, soprano), who is willing to give up her life to save the Prince. They travel all the way to Salerno, where Henry admits he was only testing her and has no desire to lose her. Snatched from Lucifer at the last moment, she weds her Prince and they live happily ever after.
Obviously the value of this work does not rest with the plot. Nor does it with the vocal lines, which I found on this first hearing surprisingly uninspiring. They simply follow the patterns of normal English speech, while the chorus passages range from quite lovely to pedestrian.
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Format: Audio CD
Elgar admired The Golden Legend. Indeed, it is hard to imagine The Dream of Gerontius taking shape without Sullivan's trail blazing experiments in emotional intensity and orchestral brilliance. Sullivan diverges markedly from his "English Musical Renaissance" contemporaries (Parry and Stamford) by following the Wagnerian rather than the Brahmsian path. For example, he uses the voices as extensions of the orchestra. Unfortunately, this is where the current recording is less than ideal. At times, the recording engineers give too much prominence to the vocalists at the expense of the orchestra. The brilliant brass passages on the road to Salerno and the fine trombone writing at the end of the fugue in the Epilogue are too much in the background. Fortunately, the orchestra is clearly heard in "It is the sea."
Of the soloists, Janice Watson is a radiant Elsie. In her aria, "The Night is calm" she almost equals Florence Austral's legendary 1926 performance (conducted by the young John Barbirolli). With the benefit of clear digital sound, Watson's performance is thrilling. Jean Rigby as Ursula is best in her duet with Watson. When she dreads the prospect of standing at her daughter's grave, dark clouds gather in the horns: a haunting passage that long lingers the in the listener's memory. In her two solo arias, I found her singing more restrained.
Mark Wilde is an excellent Prince Henry. His clear, rounded tenor is passionate, but never strident. His duet with Watson in scene VI is beautifully balanced. In scene I, he projects Prince Henry's mood of black despair with remarkable conviction and drama. Jeffrey Black is a wooly voiced Lucifer. His thick, darkly hued voice serves him best when the devil is in disguise as a physician or a friar. In the Prologue, Black is not at all a commanding force.
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Format: Audio CD
Digital recording processes, efficient marketing, and above all the work of conductor Ronald Corp in bringing back to life late nineteenth and early twentieth century music that has lain moribund and neglected, allow music lovers like me a first opportunity to hear Sir Arthur Sullivan's "The Golden Legend".
I have listened six times to this recording. Each time I find new details or effects in the music that reinforce my admiration for Sir Arthur Sullivan. A quick perusal of the Longfellow poem on which the work is based and a look at the synopsis provided with the recording have been enough to show that its Faust-like story would have been familiar, meaningful and fascinating enough to justify this work's enormous popularity in Sullivan's time. Nowadays, at least to me, it seems preposterous
Nevertheless the music repays close attention. Within the bounds of decorum that Sullivan always preserved in his music, there is a wonderful range of inventiveness, harmonic progression and melody. The forces include five soloists, chorus, orchestra and organ.
Timed to provide a satisfying evening's music making in the 1880s, the music runs for just over 90 minutes. Hyperion have marketed the two CD set for the price of one.
The recording venue was a church in south London that I used to attend many years ago. Rarely have I heard choral singing so well caught on record. The soloists have fresh young voices. If veteran record collectors have a hazy recollection of having sampled this work before, it might derive from a stunning recording of an excerpt called "The night is calm" made by the Australian soprano Florence Austral.
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