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Holst The Hymn of Jesus and Delius Sea Drift & Cynara



Following unparalleled success with recordings for orchestra and choir, including awards in recent years from both Gramophone and BBC Music Magazine, Hallé and Sir Mark Elder present a compelling programme of evocative and rarely performed works which will be a valuable addition to the catalogue. Holst’s large-scale work The Hymn of Jesus explores the connection between dancing and religious ritual in a highly concentrated and intense work. It combines musical techniques and thematic material to produce a work which is a highly evocative representation of the serenity and exaltation of mysticism. Delius' enigmatic choral poem Sea Drift is described by Elder as a ‘masterpiece’ and is a work he has long wanted to perform and record. Composed in 1903 to verses by Walt Whitman the work depicts, in wonderful music of great emotional intensity, an expression of grief, loss and bereavement. Including some of the most ravishing music that Delius ever penned, Sea Drift stands as one of the most profound evocations of loss in British music. Cynara also follows the theme of loss in a setting of texts by the poet Ernest Dowson, lamenting the loss of the mistress of the poet Horace in classical literature. With its yearning violin solo, overpowering sense of hedonistic melancholy, brief dance-episode and highly effective ending, it is a fortunately preserved reminder of Delius at the height of his expressive powers.

Holst The Hymn of Jesus and Delius Sea Drift & Cynara


“Riches aplenty, then, and the majestic performance of Holst’s The Hymn of Jesus that opens the proceedings is surely the icing on the cake… Top-notch production values and exemplary annotations set the seal on an unmissable release” Gramophone

"The Halle choir, expertly trained by Francis Cooke, is fine at either extreme, sustaining, for instance a most magical pianissimo at 'O rising stars!', Mark Elder here is elsewhere feeling the sheer stillness that is sometimes at the centre of this nevertheless impassioned score. He also coaxes some magical playing from the Halle players in the many instrumental solos in which Delius's score abounds. He knows, too, that Delius comes off best when there is proper attention to balance, clarity and rhythm...The Halle is still near the top of the league." Piers Burton-Page, International Record Review, December 2013

“… the performance of Cynara is something quite special, and particularly welcome as an addition to the ridiculously small representation of the work on disc.” Paul Corfield Godfrey,

"The Halle Choir is energetic in the dance and radiant in ecstatic affirmation, with a strong contribution from the Youth Choir's semi-chorus. The Halle plays with precise attacks and perfect blending, and Mark Elder directs with sure control of the episodic structure...These are excellently balanced live recordings made in the Bridgewater Hall." Five star review, Anthony Burton, BBC Music Magazine, December 2013

"A warmly expansive reading of Holst's The Hymn of Jesus, exquisitely played and sung, is as fine a modern recording of this tremendous piece as there is. The two Delius works, Sea Drift and Cynara, fare equally well: Elder moulds every phrase delicately and lovingly, and Williams is in especially fine voice throughout. Bravo!" Guy Weatherall, Classical Music Magazine

"The heights of excellence that the Hallé forces are consistently achieving under Elder are quite remarkable. Placing a strong emphasis on expression and such judicious pacing the performers seem to relish every note. This is an indispensable addition to any serious collection of music for chorus and orchestra." Michael Cookso,