Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius, with Daniel Barenboim, and Hampson as both the the Priest and Angel of the Agony.
Elgar’s most beloved choral work, The Dream of Gerontius explores a soul’s journey from near-death to the throne of judgement. Performed in concert at the Berlin Musikfest last year, Hampson was hailed as “rock solid” by the Financial Times, and as “filling the room with an angelic aura” by Kultur Radio. Tenor Andrew Staples performs the role of Gerontius, and mezzo-soprano Catherine Wyn-Rogers sings the role of the Angel.
Release date: July 7, 2017.
“In his singing of the Priest and the Angel of the Agony, American baritone Thomas Hampson wields the vocal and histrionic gravitas that the music needs without pushing the voice. In Part One, he phrases the Priest’s ‘Proficiscere, anima Christiana, de hoc mundo!’ with keen response to the text, breathing life into Elgar’s poignant setting of the Latin words. Greater effort is expended in Hampson’s singing in this performance than in his previous recordings of similar repertory such as the title rôles in Mendelssohn’s Elijah and Paulus, but his years of experience have honed his interpretive skills without diminishing his vocal control. As the Angel of the Agony in Part Two, the baritone voices ‘Jesu! by that shuddering dread which fell on Thee’ with stern authority, the words receiving as much of the singer’s scrutiny as the notes. Even with so many fascinating operatic characterizations to his credit, this is among Hampson’s best recorded performances. An exceptionally persuasive rendering of Elgar’s forthright music on his own terms, Hampson’s singing in this Dream of Gerontius is also a lesson for young singers in the art of preserving the voice by safeguarding both the technique and one’s artistic integrity.”
Joseph Newsome – Voix des Arts
“Thomas Hampson (last man standing from the original line-up!) was especially arresting as an austere Angel of the Agony, and the well-drilled Berlin chorus (though not quite so incisive with the text as the BBC forces on Chandos’s recent recording) were superbly characterful both as ‘Angelicals’ and in the Demons’ Chorus, all the more frightening here for being taken at a strict, steady tempo that wouldn’t have sounded out of place in the crowd-scenes of a Bach Passion.”
Presto Recordings of the Year, Finalist 2017