Elgar: Sea Pictures / Sarah Connolly, Simon Wright, Et Al
Sea Pictures, Elgar's only orchestral song-cycle, is a lovely work whose history on disc can be summed up in two words: Baker/Barbirolli. It requires a soloist with a wide expressive (and dynamic) range, able to embrace the music's many moods--from the simplicity of Sea Slumber-Song, to the intimacy of In Haven, to the heroic "nobilmente" of The Swimmer. Janet Baker's beautifully focused tone and emotional sincerity continues to dominate the competition, and she even manages to make you almost forget the resemblance between the last number's refrain and "Hello Dolly"--no mean achievement. Sarah Connolly is hardly less successful. She scales down her ample voice very effectively in the gentler numbers but rides the orchestra like a Navy Seal on a mission in The Swimmer. You may find yourself fighting the urge to salute.
Wright's accompaniments are wholly sympathetic, as fine as Barbirolli's and unsurprisingly more brilliantly captured than on the old EMI release. The Bournemouth orchestra also plays very well throughout, sounding as comfortable in this music as Sir John's LSO. An excellent disc, then, particularly for those who like their Elgar in smallish doses.
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
Catalog Number: 8557710
Composer: Sir Edward Elgar
Conductor: Simon Wright
Orchestra/Ensemble: Bournemouth Symphony Chorus, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
Performer: Sarah Connolly