Author Topic: Elgar's Hillside  (Read 195609 times)

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Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Elgar's Hillside
« Reply #1480 on: June 08, 2012, 05:14:44 AM »
Daniel's current listening reminds me that I need to revisit the Third Symphony.
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Offline madaboutmahler

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Re: Elgar's Hillside
« Reply #1481 on: June 08, 2012, 05:22:16 AM »
Daniel's current listening reminds me that I need to revisit the Third Symphony.

Funnily enough, I was just about to post here about that, Karl! :) Yes - really enjoying it very much as ever. It's been too long since I listened to it last, in full. Such a great piece which I love so very much. Thinking back, I think it was actually the first out of the '3' that I listened to.... Only around two years later did I discover the second symphony, and the first symphony not long after that. A rather strange order... ;)

So, out of the 5 recordings available (Daniel, C.Davis, A.Davis, Hickox and Otaka), which is everyone's favourite? The Paul Daniel recording on Naxos is the one I listen to most, although I own the C.Davis too. I do hope to purchase the other three at some point though.

And I am also considering, when I have the money, to buy Anthony Payne's book about the 3rd symphony, anyone here read it?
« Last Edit: June 08, 2012, 05:32:55 AM by madaboutmahler »
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Re: Elgar's Hillside
« Reply #1482 on: June 08, 2012, 05:33:50 AM »
And I am also considering, when I have the money, to buy Anthony Payne's book about the 3rd symphony, anyone here read it?

Yes - it's superb. At least, the narrative is enthralling (I can't follow much of the musical discourse). I saw him in a bar in Malvern a year or so ago, and walked over, shook his hand, and said thank you for the third symphony. The whole encounter lasted about 5 seconds. ( I worried about intruding on him, but he seemed pleased.)

Another valuable book that sheds light on the background to the 3rd symphony is Kevin Allen's Elgar in Love:



Vera Hockman emerges as the inspiration for the lovely (and deeply feminine in an Elgarian sense) second theme that's introduced early in the first movement.

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Re: Elgar's Hillside
« Reply #1483 on: June 08, 2012, 05:40:37 AM »
So, out of the 5 recordings available (Daniel, C.Davis, A.Davis, Hickox and Otaka), which is everyone's favourite? The Paul Daniel recording on Naxos is the one I listen to most, although I own the C.Davis too. I do hope to purchase the other three at some point though.

I have the same two as you do, and like you, mostly find myself reaching for the Daniel. However, I also have this:



On this CD Payne takes you step by step through his 'reconstruction'.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00002687H/$%7B0%7D

Offline madaboutmahler

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Re: Elgar's Hillside
« Reply #1484 on: June 08, 2012, 05:57:37 AM »
Thank you for the reply, Alan. Wonderful that you met Anthony Payne, and that you got to thank him for the 3rd symphony. I shall certainly make sure to get that book at some point then. And the other book you recommend also sounds very interesting so I shall try and get that in the future too. Oh yes, the lyrical theme from the first movement certainly is incredibly beautiful and romantic. Thought it must have been inspired by love! :)

And thank you for mentioning the A.Davis with the commentary from Payne, listening to some short excerpts on Amazon, it certainly sounds interesting. Certainly something I would be keen to get.
Thanks again, Alan!
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Offline Leo K.

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Re: Elgar's Hillside
« Reply #1485 on: June 09, 2012, 05:46:05 AM »
I have the same two as you do, and like you, mostly find myself reaching for the Daniel. However, I also have this:



On this CD Payne takes you step by step through his 'reconstruction'.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00002687H/$%7B0%7D

Awesome that you meant Mr. Payne! And thanks for the heads up on the recording above!

Offline TheGSMoeller

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Re: Elgar's Hillside
« Reply #1486 on: June 13, 2012, 12:29:55 PM »
Opening night concert of the Grant Park Orchestra's season is tonight. Broadcast live on www.wfmt.com at 6:30 PM Central (7:30 Eastern). Program is Pomp and Circumstance, Elgar's Cello Concerto, and Dvorak Symphony #8.

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Elgar's Hillside
« Reply #1487 on: June 15, 2012, 09:53:11 AM »
Who was the soloist, Greg?
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Offline mc ukrneal

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Re: Elgar's Hillside
« Reply #1488 on: June 19, 2012, 04:12:28 AM »
Well, I spent the last few weeks listening to two versions of Elgar’s Spirit of England. My overall preference hasn’t really changed, but my appreciation of both has increased. Overall, I still prefer the Dutton. However, this is because of certain choices that create a different impact compared to the Chandos. That is, both do what they do quite well. Ultimately, it comes down more to what factors the listener is interested in than faulting one or the other for doing something badly. 

Version 1: Gibson/Chandos. Singer:  Teresa Cahill (sop)


This one has huge impact in its fullness. It fills the ears/room with sound. It is a bit more to the side of fire and brimstone in its tuttis, but it still brings warmth and emotion in some of the quieter moments. The soprano is not entirely to my liking. Her voice is rich and powerful and she certainly conveys emotion in her singing. But I find her vibrato a bit irritating and she doesn’t float well where I feel the score can use that (for example the second section “ To Women”, there are times where she cannot seem to dial it back quite enough to allow a bit more depth/lightness – instead she belts out where I’d prefer her to show more restraint). Her entry in the first movement is not as impactful as I was expecting either. But she clearly feels the part well, and the balance is just right for the impact they want. The third movement is a bit heavy, but the lament is heart-felt and the impact has much power.


Version 2: Lloyd-Jones/Dutton, Singers: Susan Gritton (sop), Andrew Kennedy (tenor)


This one doesn’t have quite the fullness and bombast that the Gibson had. I wouldn’t have minded a bit more in some moments, but overall the concept here is consistent as well. In general, this version is a bit more light on its feet (in part because of faster tempos) as well as being more transparent. This chorus floats more and I like this impact on the piece. The soprano here, Susan Gritton, does not have quite the same power and darkness, but her lighter approach matches well what the chorus and orchestra are doing. I also preferred how she could sing her top notes in a more restrained way when the piece called for it (an example being about 2/3 through the third movement, where her voice melds beautifully with the chorus). The interesting thing here is having a tenor for the central movement (To Women). I liked the male voice here – very expressive, though there are moments he is perhaps too open in his technique.  But both singers fit well with the overall concept of the piece. In the third movement, this one almost seems ethereal in moments and I find the ending to be entirely convincing (perhaps the best part of it), and quite powerful in its beauty.

So when we get down to it – two very good versions. And I certainly enjoyed getting to know the piece better.
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Re: Elgar's Hillside
« Reply #1489 on: June 19, 2012, 11:34:33 AM »
Well, I spent the last few weeks listening to two versions of Elgar’s Spirit of England. My overall preference hasn’t really changed, but my appreciation of both has increased. Overall, I still prefer the Dutton. However, this is because of certain choices that create a different impact compared to the Chandos. That is, both do what they do quite well. Ultimately, it comes down more to what factors the listener is interested in than faulting one or the other for doing something badly. 

Version 1: Gibson/Chandos. Singer:  Teresa Cahill (sop)


This one has huge impact in its fullness. It fills the ears/room with sound. It is a bit more to the side of fire and brimstone in its tuttis, but it still brings warmth and emotion in some of the quieter moments. The soprano is not entirely to my liking. Her voice is rich and powerful and she certainly conveys emotion in her singing. But I find her vibrato a bit irritating and she doesn’t float well where I feel the score can use that (for example the second section “ To Women”, there are times where she cannot seem to dial it back quite enough to allow a bit more depth/lightness – instead she belts out where I’d prefer her to show more restraint). Her entry in the first movement is not as impactful as I was expecting either. But she clearly feels the part well, and the balance is just right for the impact they want. The third movement is a bit heavy, but the lament is heart-felt and the impact has much power.


Version 2: Lloyd-Jones/Dutton, Singers: Susan Gritton (sop), Andrew Kennedy (tenor)


This one doesn’t have quite the fullness and bombast that the Gibson had. I wouldn’t have minded a bit more in some moments, but overall the concept here is consistent as well. In general, this version is a bit more light on its feet (in part because of faster tempos) as well as being more transparent. This chorus floats more and I like this impact on the piece. The soprano here, Susan Gritton, does not have quite the same power and darkness, but her lighter approach matches well what the chorus and orchestra are doing. I also preferred how she could sing her top notes in a more restrained way when the piece called for it (an example being about 2/3 through the third movement, where her voice melds beautifully with the chorus). The interesting thing here is having a tenor for the central movement (To Women). I liked the male voice here – very expressive, though there are moments he is perhaps too open in his technique.  But both singers fit well with the overall concept of the piece. In the third movement, this one almost seems ethereal in moments and I find the ending to be entirely convincing (perhaps the best part of it), and quite powerful in its beauty.

So when we get down to it – two very good versions. And I certainly enjoyed getting to know the piece better.

You've articulated this beautifully - with such clarity that I can concur we're hearing the same things but respond to them differently. So for example, I think your description of Susan Gritton's lighter and more restrained approach is spot on, but it doesn't have the same effect on me as it does for you. Similarly the fullness of the Gibson sound is a marked difference, but that's the approach I feel the music calls for. I can easily see, however, that for some it may seem too heavy-handed - just as the Lloyd Jones seems to me to be a little too lightweight. What rules the Lloyd Jones version out of court, for me, though, is the tenor-led middle section. I just can't cope with that. And you sum all this up perfectly with your comment that 'it comes down more to what factors the listener is interested in than faulting one or the other for doing something badly'.

In my case there's one other factor that influences me above all others. The first time I heard The Spirit of England it was the Gibson version, and it completely floored me. I'd thought up to that time that I 'understood' Elgar and his music pretty well. One hearing of this recording made me realise that I most certainly did not; and by a huge margin. When that sort of thunderclap happens, it's life-changing (at least as far as music is concerned), and the performance in question assumes something like divine status. The outcome was that it seemed to me then, and still seems to me now, that Cahill and Gibson between them had given me an insight into Elgar that I could never have achieved without them. Obviously this is a deeply personal thing, and one that others probably won't share. But I can't listen to the Gibson version, even now, without remembering and reliving that experience of transcendence, of complete entry into the Elgarian world view. I don't think there's any way in which I can step outside that.

« Last Edit: June 19, 2012, 11:40:28 AM by Elgarian »

Offline mc ukrneal

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Re: Elgar's Hillside
« Reply #1490 on: June 19, 2012, 11:39:40 PM »
You've articulated this beautifully - with such clarity that I can concur we're hearing the same things but respond to them differently. So for example, I think your description of Susan Gritton's lighter and more restrained approach is spot on, but it doesn't have the same effect on me as it does for you. Similarly the fullness of the Gibson sound is a marked difference, but that's the approach I feel the music calls for. I can easily see, however, that for some it may seem too heavy-handed - just as the Lloyd Jones seems to me to be a little too lightweight. What rules the Lloyd Jones version out of court, for me, though, is the tenor-led middle section. I just can't cope with that. And you sum all this up perfectly with your comment that 'it comes down more to what factors the listener is interested in than faulting one or the other for doing something badly'.

In my case there's one other factor that influences me above all others. The first time I heard The Spirit of England it was the Gibson version, and it completely floored me. I'd thought up to that time that I 'understood' Elgar and his music pretty well. One hearing of this recording made me realise that I most certainly did not; and by a huge margin. When that sort of thunderclap happens, it's life-changing (at least as far as music is concerned), and the performance in question assumes something like divine status. The outcome was that it seemed to me then, and still seems to me now, that Cahill and Gibson between them had given me an insight into Elgar that I could never have achieved without them. Obviously this is a deeply personal thing, and one that others probably won't share. But I can't listen to the Gibson version, even now, without remembering and reliving that experience of transcendence, of complete entry into the Elgarian world view. I don't think there's any way in which I can step outside that.

And I don't think you should try to. We all have performances to which we are emotionally attached, and for the most part I think these yield positive results for us. If music doesn't move me (in some way), well that is a piece I am unlikely to return to often. Even if we delve all the secrets from such performances (which is unlikely even over many years), the performance is a reminder of what can be and how we can think of music (and our lives). 
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Re: Elgar's Hillside
« Reply #1491 on: June 20, 2012, 12:08:00 AM »
And I don't think you should try to.

Exactly: it's far too precious a thing to fool around with.

I'd be interested to hear your opinion of the other version sometime - with Felicity Lott as soloist, and Hickox conducting. It's very beautiful (of course) and you might actually prefer that version - remembering your comments on vibrato etc. To these ears, though, she seems to express no insight into the meaning of the words she's singing. They seem 'just' beautifully sung (though I feel ungrateful saying that!); and if Lott/Hickox had been the first version I'd heard, I don't think it would have triggered my Spirit of England epiphany. But it would be very interesting to have your thoughts on it.


Offline mc ukrneal

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Re: Elgar's Hillside
« Reply #1492 on: June 20, 2012, 02:49:05 AM »
Exactly: it's far too precious a thing to fool around with.

I'd be interested to hear your opinion of the other version sometime - with Felicity Lott as soloist, and Hickox conducting. It's very beautiful (of course) and you might actually prefer that version - remembering your comments on vibrato etc. To these ears, though, she seems to express no insight into the meaning of the words she's singing. They seem 'just' beautifully sung (though I feel ungrateful saying that!); and if Lott/Hickox had been the first version I'd heard, I don't think it would have triggered my Spirit of England epiphany. But it would be very interesting to have your thoughts on it.


I see it is sort of OOP, and getting a copy at a decent price may be an issue, but I'll keep an eye out for it.

One other thing about the Chandos issue that I find curious is the number of different covers it has. As best I can tell, it has at least four:



Only the middle two are available on the Chandos site. The first is available at Amazon (and perhaps other sites), but I have found the last picture only at one site so far. It is strange to see four so varied covers for the same issue (often re-issues try to use something of the previous cover or if they do make a break at some point, it is not usually so many). It's a curious thing.
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Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Elgar's Hillside
« Reply #1493 on: June 20, 2012, 03:34:10 AM »
An effusion of cover art, to be sure.
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Offline 71 dB

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Re: Elgar's Hillside
« Reply #1494 on: June 20, 2012, 10:00:10 AM »
One other thing about the Chandos issue that I find curious is the number of different covers it has. As best I can tell, it has at least four:

I have the "dark brown" cover. I need to listen to the CD again soon.
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Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Elgar's Hillside
« Reply #1495 on: June 20, 2012, 10:01:57 AM »
I have the Union-Jack-detail cover.
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Re: Elgar's Hillside
« Reply #1496 on: June 20, 2012, 10:23:00 AM »
I have the dark brown and gold cover too.

Offline knight66

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Re: Elgar's Hillside
« Reply #1497 on: June 20, 2012, 09:37:41 PM »
I have the King in his crown, which I think is the original CD cover. Again interesting to read how differently the same voice strikes different ears. I would describe Cahill as having vibrancy, not a vibrato......I dislike a vibrato in the main. Try out Gwyneth Jones for the pronounced version of that trait. (Not In the Elgar, just as voice example.) To my ears Lott always sounds plaid, though some listeners cannot get enough of her. I never feel she is really putting her back into it.

So, Cahill for me in the Elgar under discussion, irreplaceable.

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Re: Elgar's Hillside
« Reply #1498 on: June 20, 2012, 09:50:42 PM »
To my ears Lott always sounds plaid

???

Offline knight66

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Re: Elgar's Hillside
« Reply #1499 on: June 20, 2012, 09:56:27 PM »
Just how I hear her in the main. She gentles her way round music and puts me in mind of Isobel Bailey's mantra, "Never sing louder than lovely."

No doubt examples of her sounding like she is making a bit of an effort could be exhumed, but I long since gave up on her gentile art, the Julie Andrews of the opera world.

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