The Halle and Sir Mark Elder Release New Recording, Featuring THE HYMN OF JESUS

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Following their highly acclaimed recording of Elgar's The Apostles - winner of a 2013 Gramophone Award and two 2013 awards from BBC Music Magazine including Recording of the Year - the Hallé and Sir Mark Elder present a program of evocative and rarely-performed 20th-Century British choral works.

The performances showcase the renaissance that has been achieved at the Hallé under Sir Elder, as well as superb performances from British baritone Roderick Williams The new recording featuring music by Gustav Holst and Frederick Delius on the Hallé's own label is available this month from Allegro Classical.

Holst's large-scale work, The Hymn of Jesus, written in 1917 and first performed in 1920 during the aftermath of WWI, was the composer's first major work after The Planets. Using an unusual Gnostic text in Greek, this alluring piece explores the connection between dancing and religious ritual. Highly concentrated and intense, The Hymn of Jesus is an evocative representation of the serenity and exaltation of mysticism.

Delius's Sea Drift for baritone, chorus and orchestra from 1903/04 is a setting of verse by Walt Whitman. Delius uses text taken mainly from the Whitman poem Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking which relates a tragic tale of the love and pain of separation, through a boy's eyes, of two nesting seagulls until one day the she-bird flew off and never returned. "The rocking motion of the sea waves is evoked throughout this heavily atmospheric score, shaped with delicacy and played with a shimmering radiance in wonderful music of great emotional intensity," says Music Web of the Hallé's performance, calling the work "some of the most ravishing music that Delius ever penned."

Cynara also follows the theme of loss, in a setting of texts by the poet Ernest Dowson, lamenting the mistress of the poet Horace in classical literature. With its yearning violin solo and overpowering sense of hedonistic melancholy, the work represents Delius at the height of his expressive powers.

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by Peter Danish