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Drawing on texts from the Apocrypha, The Hymn of Jesus is less a Christian meditation, more a mystical experience. Composed on either side of Holst’s first world war service and specked with plainsong and timbres reminiscent of The Planets, it radiates exaltation, serenity, originality.
Elder’s exploration of his orchestra’s Barbirolli inheritance here reaches a peak (ecstatic contributions from the Hallé Choir and Youth Choir) and the pairing with Delius is inspired: baritone soloist Roderick Williams dignifies both the dreamy narrative of the Whitman cantata Sea Drift and the sweet melancholy of Cynara.
The Hymn of Jesus, Sea Drift, Cynara