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In a performance as committed as this one taken mainly from a live Bridgewater Hall performance in 2012, it’s hard to understand why The Apostles remains not better known, for Elder brings his considerable Elgarian credentials to bear on this oratorio in a manner which reveals it as a masterpiece. Everyone’s contribution is directed to obtaining the best from Elgar’s inspired writing, and Elder’s dramatic instincts, honed from long experience in the opera house, ensure that the momentum never flags for an instant. All of the soloists make fine contributions, but Brindley Sherratt’s reading of Judas and Alice Coote’s involving Mary Magdalene stand out. Elder is in total command of his large forces, drawing inspired playing and singing from his Hallé colleagues. He also goes the extra distance in securing a genuine shofar and adhering to the composer’s request for an Apostolic semi-chorus of male voices. First-rate liner notes from that doyen of Elgarians, Michael Kennedy, complete one’s enjoyment. It’s a recording not to be missed.

PHILIP REED Read the full review on Agora Classica


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