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CHAN 10301
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CHAN 10301
Opera - Ruth

Berkeley, Lennox: Ruth

The Classical Shop
release date: April 2005

Recorded in 24 Bit / 96Khz
album available as a Studio Master
Originally recorded in 2004


City of London Sinfonia

Richard Hickox

Roderick Williams

baritone - Head Reaper

Jean Rigby

mezzo-soprano - Ruth

Yvonne Kenny

soprano - Naomi

Claire Rutter

soprano - Orpah

Mark Tucker

tenor - Boaz

Joyful Company of Singers


Blackheath Halls, London


Brian Couzens


Ralph Couzens

Michael Common


Record Label



Total Time - 78:37
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Opera - Ruth



Select Complete Single Disc for
premiere recording

Ruth, Op. 50

  An Opera in Three Scenes  
  Libretto by Eric Crozier  
  Scene 1  
1 A mountainous place near Bethlehem 1:57
2 'Once more I see your green and golden hills, O Judah!' 3:05
  Naomi, Ruth, Orpah  
3 'Turn back, my daughters' 1:38
  Naomi, Ruth, Orpah  
4 'Almighty Father, let my cry come unto thee!' 3:13
  Naomi, Orpah, Ruth  
5 'Ah, must I leave thee? Must we part?' 3:23
  Orpah, Naomi, Ruth  
6 'Whither thou goest, I will go' 3:02
  Ruth, Naomi  
7 'See! Is this Naomi!?' 2:14
  Women, Naomi  
8 'Ah, call me not Naomi, let Mara be my name' 2:32
9 'Where, ah, where is Naomi?' 2:21
  Women, Naomi, Ruth  
  Scene 2  
10 A harvest field belonging to Boaz - 1:45
  'Gold grows the barley on hillside and valley'  
11 'Greetings, men of Judah!' 1:05
  Women, Head Reaper  
12 'The scatter'd ear of corn' 1:55
  Women, Men  
13 'Come, let us go forth together' 3:23
  Head Reaper, Women, Men, Ruth  
14 'Stay, men of Judah!' 2:17
  Boaz, Men, Women, Head Reaper, Ruth  
15 'I had no wish to anger them' 3:19
  Ruth, Boaz, Head Reaper  
16 'Ah, let not anger fill your eyes!' 3:05
  Ruth, Boaz  
17 'Whence cometh this to me, that thou should'st deign to notice me?' 3:47
  Ruth, Boaz  
18 'The scatter'd ear of corn' 2:25
  Women, Men, Boaz  
  Scene 3  
19 A threshing-floor, at night - 2:11
  'This is the place! Come, daughter'  
  Naomi, Ruth  
20 'Fear not, beloved Ruth!' 2:42
  Naomi, Ruth  
21 'Golden ripe the barley grows' 1:11
  Women, Men, Naomi, Ruth, Head Reaper, Boaz  
22 'Lord of the Harvest, what are thy commands?' 1:47
  Men, Head Reaper, Women, Boaz  
23 'Winter time is time to plough, aie, the wind does bite!' 1:14
  Men, Women  
24 'Across the field the long slow line of reapers goes a-reaping' 1:33
25 'Dance, come dance, dance within the ring' 1:39
  Women, Men, Head Reaper  
26 'O clap your hands, all ye people!' 2:22
  Boaz, Women, Men  
27 'Go now, my daughter' 1:50
  Naomi, Ruth  
28 'Master!' 1:42
  Ruth, Boaz  
29 'Thou comest in the stillness of the night' 4:22
  Boaz, Ruth  
30 'Lo, my beloved, my soul's delight, to thee I give my hand' 1:53
  Boaz, Ruth  
31 'Ho there, my people!' 1:39
  Boaz, Ruth, Naomi, Women, Men  
32 'Behold this maid' 3:25
  Boaz, Ruth, Naomi, Head Reaper, Women, Men  
33 'Rejoice, O Israel, rejoice' 2:41
  Head Reaper, Women, Men, Ruth, Naomi, Boaz  
Back in June of last year, Chandos released the premiere recording of Sir Lennox Berkeley’s comicopera A Dinner Engagement.The recording, which featured Yvonne Kenny, Claire Rutter, Roderick Williams and Jean Rigby under the baton of Richard Hickox, was a Gramophone ‘Disc of the Month’ and a ‘Critics’ Choice’ of 2004. Now, from the same composer and the same forces, we release another operatic premiere. Unlike A Dinner Engagement, Ruth is a serious opera, based on the Old Testament story of the marriage of Boaz of Bethlehem to the Moabite Ruth. This neglected masterpiece, praised at its premiere for its lyricism and expressiveness, is said to contain some of Berkeley’s most imaginative music. Benjamin Britten described the work as ‘beautiful’.

Premiere recording of Sir Lennox Berkeley’s opera Ruth.

These forces have acquired a formidable reputation for their performances of English opera, and their award-winning recordings of operas by Benjamin Britten are considered by many to be the top recommendations of the repertoire.

"A lifelong Christian, who had converted to Roman Catholicism in 1929, Berkeley chose the Biblical story of Ruth as the subject of an opera from a number of suggestions offered by the writer Eric Crozier. Crozier had been a co-founder with Benjamin Britten of both the English Opera Group and the Aldeburgh Festival, and for some years had collaborated closely with Britten, as opera director and librettist. Crozier’s adaptation of the story simplifies the narrative, but places a new emphasis on Ruth’s status as an outsider shunned by society, a crucial concern of the twentieth century (and indeed of the twenty-first). The chorus is given a prominent role, especially in the harvest festival of the third and final scene. Within each scene, rhymed set-pieces alternate with prose recitative.

Crozier’s diction is consciously archaic, so that the occasional direct Biblical quotations do not sound out of place. Together with the simplicity and solemnity of the action, this gives the work a feeling far removed from that of most operas, perhaps suggesting a series of stained-glass windows. The work calls on larger resources than most of the new works written for the English Opera Group. Of the two main female parts, Berkeley chose to make Ruth a mezzo-soprano and her widowed mother-in-law, Naomi, a soprano – perhaps to avoid the conventional associations of operatic love duets which would have been evoked by the combination of a soprano Ruth with a tenor Boaz. Berkeley sub-titled Ruth a ‘lyrical opera’, and its tone is indeed predominantly lyrical and pastoral. There is a French quality about some of the vocal writing, but his natural-sounding setting of English words, especially in the recitatives, owes more to Britten.

Fully paid-up Berkeley fans need not hesitate, however. We are unlikely to get a finer version in the near future.
International Record Review

A long-neglected British opera at last makes its sparkling debut on record.
Gramophone ‘Disc of the Month’ and ‘Critics’ Choice’

Hickox’s pacing is consistently right, making the most of the slow-moving plot. Jean Rigby as Ruth is charming but firm in resolve when needed and Yvonne Kenny is a dignified and vocally imposing Naomi. Much of the drama is carried by these two women but all the roles are well cast and effective. There are plenty of lively choruses fro the reapers, projected with panache. There’s a full libretto in three languages and informative notes from Anthony Burton…

…excellent performances…
Classic FM Magazine

Richard Hickox’s effective rep company of operatic singers brings its usual devotion and skill to the task in hand, with Jean Rigby a moving Ruth, Yvonne Kenny on fine form as her mother Naomi and Mark Tucker an ardent Boaz.
BBC Music Magazine

…all praise to Hickox and Chandos for putting this delight into the recording catalogue at last.
The Times

K Mcroberts

F Goodchild