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CHAN 241-46M
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CHAN 241-46
(multiple CD Set)

Elgar: The Dream of Gerontius

The Classical Shop
release date: July 2013

Originally recorded in 1988


London Symphony Orchestra

Richard Hickox

Gwynne Howell

bass (The Priest/Angel of the Agony)

Felicity Palmer

mezzo-soprano (Angel)

Roderick Elms


Arthur Davies

tenor (Gerontius)

London Symphony Chorus


Watford Town Hall


Brian Couzens


Ralph Couzens

Janet Middlebrook


Record Label
2 for 1


Orchestral & Concertos


Total Time - 113:50
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Blest Pair of Sirens (1887)

  (At a Solemn Musick)  
  for Chorus and Orchestra  
  An Ode by Milton  

I was glad (1902, revised 1911)

  Coronation Anthem for Edward VII  
  for Chorus and Orchestra  
  Revised for George V  
  Words from Psalm 122  



The Dream of Gerontius, Op. 38

  for Mezzo-soprano, Tenor, Bass, Chorus, and Orchestra  
  Words by Cardinal Newman  
  Part I 37:16      
3 Prelude - 10:17
4 Gerontius: 'Jesu, Maria - I am near to death' - 3:40
5 Assistants: 'Kyrie eleison' - 2:16
6 Gerontius: 'Rouse thee, my fainting soul, and play the man' - 0:51
7 Assistants: 'Be merciful, be gracious; spare him, Lord' - 3:07
8 Gerontius: 'Sanctus fortis, Sanctus Deus' - 4:49
9 Gerontius: 'I can no more; for now it comes again' - 1:56
10 Assistants: 'Rescue him, O Lord, in this evil hour' - 2:16
11 Gerontius: 'Novissima hora est; and I fain would sleep' - 1:29
12 The Priest and Assistants: 'Profociscere, anima Christiana, de hoc mundo!' - 1:59
13 Assistants: 'Go, in the name of Angels and Archangels' 4:30
  Part II 57:57      
14 Introduction: Soul of Gerontius: 'I went to sleep; 6:25
  and now I am refreshed' -  
15 Angel: 'My work is done' - 3:10
16 Angel: 'All hail! My child and brother, hail!' - 5:44
17 Demons: 'Low-born clods of brute earth' - 1:54
18 Angel: 'It is the restless panting of their being' - 0:16
19 Demons: 'The mind bold and independent' - 2:20
20 Soul of Gerontius: 'I see not those false spirits' - 3:25
21 Choir of Angelicals: 'Praise to the Holiest in the height' - 2:40
22 Angel: 'We now have passed the gate, and are within…' - 0:27
23 Choir of Angelicals: 'Glory to Him, who evermore' - 0:30
24 Angel: 'They sing of thy approaching agony' - 0:47
25 Soul of Gerontius: 'But hark! a grand mysterious harmony' - 0:39
26 Angel: 'And now the threshold, as we traverse it' - 0:32
27 Choir of Angelicals: 'Praise to the Holiest in the height' - 6:56
28 Angel: 'Thy judgement now is near, for we are come' - 3:23
29 Angel of the Agony: 'Jesu! by that shuddering dread 3:50
  which fell on Thee' -  
30 Soul of Gerontius: 'I go before my Judge' - 1:43
31 Angel: 'Praise to His Name!' - 1:34
32 Soul of Gerontius: 'Take me away, and in the lowest 2:56
  deep…' -  
33 Souls in Purgatory: 'Lord, Thou hast been our refuge; 1:14
  in every generation' -  
34 Angel: 'Softly and gently, dearly-ransomed soul' 7:19
 Felicity Palmer mezzo-soprano (Angel)
 Arthur Davies tenor (Gerontius)
 Gwynne Howell bass (The Priest/Angel of the Agony)
 Roderick Elms organ
 Richard Hickox
  14-16 February 1988  

Chandos Records CHAN 241-46

Elgar: The Dream of Gerontius; Parry: Blest Pair of Sirens; Parry: I was glad – Felicity Palmer, Arthur Davies, Gwynne Howell, Roderick Elms (organ), London Symphony Chorus, London Symphony Orchestra, Richard Hickox

In The Dream of Gerontius, Elgar succeeded in writing a religious choral work that fell firmly outside the established genres of either the oratorio or the cantata, and unusually the text itself was not biblical either. Large sections of Cardinal Newman’s poem about the journey of a man’s soul to judgement and Purgatory are simply, as the score states, ‘set to music’ by Elgar. The composer himself knew that in this work he had created something very special indeed. On the manuscript score, he quoted Ruskin: ‘This is the best of me… this, if anything of mine, is worth your memory.’ It was written ‘from my insidest inside’, he confided to a friend, and to another he wrote that ‘you will find Gerontius far beyond anything I’ve yet done… I have written my own heart’s blood into the score’.

When it was first released, Gramophone wrote of Richard Hickox’s version of Gerontius: ‘Captured in sound of striking range and focus, Hickox’s bright-eyed conception evinces an almost operatic fervour.’ The Observer called it ‘a masterpiece’, continuing: ‘Arthur Davies is an exceptionally clear, strong and forthright Gerontius, Gwynne Howell a noble angel [of the agony], while Felicity Palmer is a most unusual icily direct angel.’

On this disc we also have two works by Sir Charles Hubert H. Parry. Firstly, Blest Pair of Sirens, for which both Elgar and Vaughan Williams had the highest regard. This setting of words from Milton’s ode At a Solemn Musick was composed for the Bach Choir in 1887, which Stanford conducted, and it has remained a firm favourite with choirs ever since. Parry composed the anthem I was glad for the coronation of King Edward VII in 1902, and it has also been performed at the three subsequent coronations (1911, 1937, and 1953) as the sovereign enters Westminster Abbey.

"...Hickox’s performances of choral-orchestral pieces have struck me as direct, fairly exciting, and (even when using period instruments) robust in sound; indeed, his choral work as always been admirable. Those qualities shine through inabundance here... This is a terrific reissue with great sonics ..."

Paul Althouse - American Record Guide - January/February 2014

"...The Elgar emphasises what was lost with Hickox’s premature death. It is powerfully dramatic (the Demons have never sounded more ferociously demonic) but hypersensitive to the marvelous subtlety of orchestral and choral colour. Fine soloists, not least Felicity Palmer."

David Cairns - The Sunday Times (Culture magazine) - 6 October 2013

"...This is a Gerontius sung and recorded on a really grand, operatic scale and remains the best version of the last twenty-five years. Issued as part of Chandos’ The Hickox Legacy, it also stands as a fitting memorial to the late Richard Hickox, who died in 2008 aged only sixty." 
Ralph Moore - - 8 August 2013

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