Karabits’s Profoundly Moving Dream of Gerontius with the Bournemouth SO

16/05/2019

United KingdomUnited Kingdom Elgar: Paul Appleby (tenor), Alice Coote (mezzo-soprano), James Rutherford (bass), Bournemouth Symphony Chorus and Orchestra / Kirill Karabits (conductor), The Lighthouse, Poole, 15.5.2019. (IL)

Soloists, Chorus, Bournemouth SO & Kirill Karabits (conductor)

Elgar – The Dream of Gerontius

For decades now we have been used to non-British conductors performing Elgar’s orchestral works, but their performances of the composer’s oratorios have been somewhat fewer. Drawing the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra’s 2018/2019 season to a triumphant conclusion, Kirill Karabits, the BSO’s Chief Conductor, delivered such a profoundly moving performance that this reviewer is unashamed to admit that at a number of points tears stood in his eyes.

‘This is the best of me’, wrote Elgar about his Gerontius. The writer of this concert’s notes, Terry Barfoot, rightly commented about this intensely personal yet universal music: ‘It is a central work, in some respects, the central work in our national choral repertory’.

The demanding title role has attracted the cream of tenors. I am reminded particularly of Heddle Nash and Richard Lewis. Lewis’s Gerontius always impressed me. His hugely emotional first aria, ‘Sanctus fortis, Sanctus Deus…’ lingers still in my memory. The American tenor Paul Appleby’s delivery did not have the same emotional and dramatic heft. His lighter, sincere and supplicatory tones were much more convincing and successful through the Second Part. Alice Coote was a convincingly protective and soothing Angel preparing Gerontius for judgement and was glowingly consolatory thereafter. Bass, James Rutherford, was oakenly authoritative as the Priest ordering the soul of Gerontius to ‘Go forth upon thy journey’ at the mightily impressive close of Part One, and as a masterful Angel of the Agony in Part Two.

Special mention must be made of the superb contribution of the BSO Chorus. They shone throughout, from their delivery of the devotional texts in Elgar’s complex four-part, fugal writing, through to their exuberant support of the Priest in Part One; and to their demons’ vehemence and their exquisitely moving ‘Praise to the Holiest…’ in Part Two.

Under Karabits, the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra played with refinement, and was acutely attuned to the sensibilities of Cardinal Newman’s texts and Elgar’s inspiration. I hope that Karabits will look with favour upon further Elgar devotional works, The Apostles and The Kingdom, or the shorter but equally glorious Lux Christi.

Ian Lace

Comments

Leave a Reply

Recent Reviews

Season Previews

__________________________________
  • NEW! Let’s Dance International Frontiers 2020 from 29 April to 16 May in Leicester __________________________________
  • NEW! Beethoven 250 at London’s Barbican __________________________________
  • NEW! Opera and more in Buenos Aires during 2020 __________________________________
  • NEW! Beethoven 250 at London’s Southbank Centre __________________________________
  • NEW! Saffron Hall in February – August 2020 __________________________________
  • NEW! Bampton Classical Opera in 2020 – Gluck’s Paris and Helen __________________________________
  • NEW! Surrey’s Grange Park Opera in 2020 __________________________________
  • NEW! The Leeds Lieder Concert Series 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Edinburgh Usher Hall 2019-2020 Orchestral Season __________________________________
  • Lyric Opera of Chicago’s 2020 Ring Cycles __________________________________
  • NEW! Ex Cathedra’s 50th Anniversary Season in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Geneva Grand Théâtre in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • UPDATED! 2019-20 at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden __________________________________
  • NEW! City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Zurich Opera House in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • UPDATED! English National Opera in 2019-2020 and New Artistic Director __________________________________
  • UPDATED! ENB in 2019-2020 and Opening of their New London City Island Home __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Cleveland Orchestra in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Free Review Summary Newsletter

    Search S&H

    News and Featured Articles

    __________________________________
  • NEW AND UPDATED! BEST OF 2019 FROM SOME OF OUR REVIEWERS __________________________________
  • NEW! CONDUCTOR TOM HAMMOND IN CONVERSATION WITH ROBERT BEATTIE __________________________________
  • NEW! Ballet Icons Gala 2020 at the London Coliseum on 26 January __________________________________
  • NEW! CONDUCTOR HERVÉ NIQUET INTERVIEWED ABOUT GRÉTRY’S RICHARD, COEUR DE LION __________________________________
  • PIANIST JAMES LISNEY IN CONVERSATION WITH ROBERT BEATTIE __________________________________
  • SOPRANO ANGELA GHEORGHIU IN CONVERSATION WITH MICHAEL COOKSON __________________________________
  • NOW REVIEWED! MATTHEW BOURNE’S ROMEO AND JULIET IN CINEMAS FROM 22 OCTOBER __________________________________
  • REVIEWED! Ron Howard’s Pavarotti in Cinemas 13 July (Preview) and Nationwide (15 July) __________________________________
  • CONDUCTOR THOMAS SANDERLING IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • A Q&A WITH GERMAN SOPRANO PETRA LANG __________________________________
  • HOW TO CONTACT SEEN AND HEARD INTERNATIONAL __________________________________
  • A Q&A WITH ITALIAN BARITONE FRANCO VASSALLO __________________________________
  • A Q&A WITH LISETTE OROPESA AS SHE RETURNS TO LA OPERA FOR ORFEO ED EURIDICE __________________________________
  • THE PIANIST VALENTINA LISITSA IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • Archives by Week

    Archives by Month