The Dream of Gerontius is based on a poem by Cardinal Newman, the Victorian theologian who moved from the Church of England to Catholicism. Written in 1865 after his conversation, the written work follows the titular character through death, judgement and Purgatorial cleansing. Optimistic and reassuring without being triumphant, its solemn words are perfectly matched by Elgar’s stately music. It is easy to see why it appealed to the battle-hardened population.
Dizzying bursts of gold-tinted energy are juxtaposed with contemplative, heaven-soaring recitatives, while three soloists provide individual moments of serene beauty. In few other works is the great British composer’s mastery of orchestral colour so evident. Even shorn of its religious context, this is choral music at its most personal and passionate, writ on a universal canvas.
Along with the London Symphony Chorus under director Simon Halsey, the orchestra will be joined by three first-class soloists. The mezzo-soprano Alice Coote, famed for her mastery of breeches roles, will play the Angel. The ever-rising tenor Allan Clayton will take the part of Gerontius. And the glorious baritone Gerald Finley, likely Canada’s greatest singer, will be the priest. This should be a fitting commemoration of wartime sufferings that looks towards the future with hope.
|What||The Dream of Gerontius, Barbican Centre|
|Where||Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London, EC2Y 8DS | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Barbican (underground)|
On 24 Apr 16, 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
|Website||Click here to book via the Barbican website|