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Though well-received at its 1888 premiere in Birmingham, Parry’s Judith fell from favour during the last century, overshadowed not least by Elgar’s Gerontius. Freer of the influence of Wagner than Elgar’s oratorio, Judith surely owes a debt to Elijah. The one number you’re bound to recognise is the aria ‘Dear Lord and Father of Mankind’ – better known as a hymn (‘Repton’). This is Judith’s first recording, made in the wake of a rare outing in 2019 in the Royal Festival Hall with the same forces. On the evidence of these CDs, conductor William Vann totally believes in this piece; he offers a compelling reading, drawing from the excellent Crouch End Festival Chorus and LMP (all of whom would have been new to the piece) a thrilling account. The soloists are all on fine form, with Sarah Fox in the title role singing with burnished tones, and Toby Spence as the conflicted king exploiting his ringing top register.

PHILIP REED Read the full review on Agora Classica

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