At the Boar's Head; Riders to the Sea review – sympathetic take on Holst and Vaughan Williams

Percifield/Chiew/Reveille/Barry/Lemalu/Griffiths/Warsaw Chamber Opera Sinfonietta/Borowicz
(Dux)

There is a recording already available of each of these one-act British operas, by Holst and Vaughan Williams, but it has taken the redoubtable Polish label Dux to give us an alternative. Recorded live in concert at the Beethoven festival in Warsaw last March, both come across convincingly thanks to their largely English-speaking casts plus a sympathetic if perhaps not optimally dramatic performance by the Warsaw Chamber Opera Sinfonietta under conductor Łukasz Borowicz. In Vaughan Williams’s setting of JM Synge’s doom-laden play – which here comes complete with crashing wave sound effects – the mother Maurya’s grief and final liberation is conveyed by Kathleen Reveille in a powerful, tense-sounding mezzo-soprano, and the supporting singers are vivid. At the Boar’s Head is a longer but slenderer work, in which Holst fits folk tunes to speeches from Henry IV; Jonathan Lemalu is the robust Falstaff, Eric Barry the clarion Prince Hal.

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Erica Jeal

The GuardianTramp

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