Elgar’s Violin Concerto has a certain mystique about it independent of the knee-jerk obeisance it has received in the British press. It probably is the longest and most difficult of all Romantic violin concertos, requiring not just great technical facility but great concentration from the soloist and a real partnership of equals with the orchestra. And like all of Elgar’s large orchestral works, it is extremely episodic in construction and liable to fall apart if not handled with a compelling sense of the long line. In reviewing the score while listening to this excellent performance, I was struck by just how fussy Elgar’s indications often are: the constant accelerandos and ritards, and the minute (and impractical) dynamic indications that ask more questions than they sometimes answer. No version, least of all the composer’s own, even attempts to realize them all: it would be impossible without italicizing and sectionalizing the work to death.
Chandos Records is delighted to present this new recording of Elgar’s choral masterpiece The Dream of Gerontius and the enduringly popular song cycle Sea Pictures. The BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus are conducted by Sir Andrew Davis, a peerless Elgarian who this year was awarded the prestigious Elgar Society Medal in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the composer’s music. In Gerontius the soloists are Stuart Skelton, David Soar and Sarah Connolly, who also sings in Sea Pictures. This recording was made in the days leading up to their triumphant live performance of Gerontius in April of this year in which Skelton was praised as ‘the ideal tenor for the role of Gerontius’, Soar described as ‘an implacable, dark sounding Priest’ and Connolly, ‘a consummately polished Angel’ (The Guardian).
A really great session from pianist Andrew Hill – and one of his few post-Blue Note sessions to feature a horn player! The style of the set draws from a few strands of Hill's career – in that Hill is playing in some freely exploratory piano modes, yet also manages to swing soulfully with the rest of the group, especially sax player Jimmy Vass – who makes a rare appearance here on soprano, alto, and flute. In a way, the album probably most closely resembles the Andrew LP on Blue Note – which is great by us, as it's one of his best sets! Titles include "One For", "Remnants", "Blue Black", and "Golden Spook".
Composer, arranger, producer, educator and monster bass player, Andrew Ford's groove pedigree features recordings, tours and performances with the likes of Al Jarreau, Whitney Houston, Robben Ford, Chaka Khan, George Duke, Gladys Knight, James Ingram, Patti Austin, Christopher Cross, Michael McDonald, The Emotions, The Stylistics, Larry Carlton, Oleta Adams and so many other world-class musicians that it makes your head spin. Nobody on the planet is better qualified than Andrew Ford to present this Bass Groove Survival Guide.