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Sea Pictures may be lesser Elgar, but it has always lured the most distinguished contraltos of the day from the time that Clara Butt gave the first performance at Norwich in 1899, clad as a mermaid in seaweed green. Janet Baker often worked with Barbirolli, as a superb Angel in Gerontius, but equally memorable in the Mahler cycles. Barbirolli had the highest opinion of her artistry, and she movingly demonstrated her reciprocal affection during a Gerontius sung in his memory, when her final words could only be whispered through tears. Sea Pictures is most effective when least ambitious, as with the delicate miniature 'In Haven' [listen -- track 7, 0:00-1:15].

Copyright © 12 January 2005 Robert Anderson, London UK


Great Recordings of the Century - Elgar

5 62886 2 ADD Stereo COMPILATION 68'38" 1963, 1965, 2004 EMI Records Ltd

Jacqueline du Pré, cello; Janet Baker, mezzo-soprano; Philharmonia Orchestra (Cockaigne only); London Symphony Orchestra; Sir John Barbirolli, conductor

Edward Elgar (1857-1934): Concert Overture: Cockaigne (In London Town) Op 40; Cello Concerto in E minor Op 85; Sea Pictures Op 37


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