Recommended recordings of The Kingdom

Recommended recordings of The Kingdom

Paul’s Recommendation

There is little doubting Paul’s preference is for the classic 1969 recording. It’s conducted by Sir Adrian Boult, with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus and soloists Margaret Price, Alexander Young, Yvonne Minton and John Shirley-Quirk.

The great news here is that there is a 6-CD box set featuring this recording along with Boult’s recordings of Gerontius, The Music Makers, The Apostles, and Coronation Ode all for £13.75 from Presto Classical. Click here for more details. We’ve just ordered our copy!

As a little bonus, you might be interested in listening to Sir Adrian Boult’s Desert Island Discs, recorded in 1979 with Roy Plomley. Click here to listen on the BBC.

Going back a little further, there is a delightful 1958 Plomley interview with Agnes Nicholls, who was the soprano solist at the 1906 premiere of The Kingdom. Click here to listen on the BBC.

Other CD Recordings

There are two other recordings you may with to take a look at. Sir Mark Elder recorded The Kingdom with the Hallé in 2010. It’s a double CD release available from Presto Classical at £18. Click here for more details.

Richard Hickox recorded The Kingdom with the LSO. This recording is from 2014 and will set you back £25. For further information click here.

Digital downloads

The above are also available as digital downloads. This is generally a little cheaper than the CDs if that’s your thing!

YouTube Videos

There are various versions and extracts to be found on YouTube, far too numerous to list here. If you wish to take a look at some of what is on offer then click here for a starter. If you just want to play something now, try this for size:

Mendelssohn: Elijah

There are a large number of recordings available. We list four that have appeared in Radio 3’s ‘Building a Library’ reviews. You can listen to the most recent reviews here.

1 – Iain Burnside’s Choice

Soile Isokoski (soprano), Monica Groop (alto), John Mark Ainsley (tenor), Petteri Salomaa (bass), La Chapelle Royale, Collegium Vocale Gent,Orchestre des Champs-Elysees, Philippe Herreweghe (conductor)
HARMONIA MUNDI HMC901463-64 (2-CD, mid-price)

2 – Brian Kay’s Choice

Bryn Terfel (Elijah), Renée Fleming (The Widow), Patricia Bardon (An Angel), John Mark Ainsley (Obadiah), Libby Crabtree (Soprano II),Sara Fulgoni (The Queen), John Bowen (Ahab),Neal Davies (Bass II), Geoffrey Moses (Bass III),Matthew Monro (The Boy), Edinburgh Festival Chorus,Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Paul Daniel (conductor)

3 – Mid Price

Harold Williams (Elijah), Isobel Baillie (The Widow, An Angel, The Youth), Gladys Ripley (The Angel, The Queen), James Johnston (Obadiah, Ahab), Huddersfield Choral Society, Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Sir Malcolm Sargent (conductor)

4 – Budget Price

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (Elijah), Gwyneth Jones (The Widow, An Angel), Janet Baker(The Angel, The Queen), Nicolai Gedda (Obadiah, Ahab),Simon Woolf (The Youth), Wandsworth School Boys’ Choir,New Philharmonia Chorus & Orchestra, Rafael Fruhbeckde Burgos (conductor)
EMI CZS 5 68601-2 (2-CD, budget)

Sir Simon Rattle

Gerontius on YouTube

We’ve dug out some performances available on YouTube that you may wish to watch.

Simon Rattle and The Vienna Philharmonic

From the 2015 Proms season a performance featuring Simon Rattle’s conducting the Vienna Philharmonic, with Magdalena Kožená, Toby Spence, Roderick Williams, and the BBC Proms Youth Choir.


Fiona Maddocks wrote in her Guardian review:

Set to a text by the Catholic convert Cardinal John Henry Newman, Gerontiuscharts the journey of a soul from sickbed to eternal glory. This meditation on death has rich, complicated and layered string writing, majestic brass, uplifting and fiendishly difficult choruses and an ecstatic version of the hymn “Praise to the holiest in the height”. Beloved of choral societies – some audience members turned up carrying their own vocal parts – the work attracts a particular kind of reverence. Janet Baker remains for many, and with reason, the ideal mezzo to sing the Angel. It’s as if the incense-heavy text has to be neutralised with a comparable severity and beauty of performance style which she so brilliantly provided.

Magdalena Kožená, with her long, flaming-red hair and angelic white, bell-sleeved gown, took a more pre-Raphaelite approach – think of Rossetti’s Beata Beatrix, not so far from Newman’s Dante-inspired world – which will not have pleased all, though Elgar might have found it entirely fitting. Just as some talk with their hands so Kožená moves her arms when she sings, which is not the same as emoting or acting. Occasionally she was in danger of being covered by the orchestra, but her voice has an appealing burnished quality and the Vienna players produced such a glowing, resplendent sound it hardly mattered.

Rattle’s tempi always felt right, the shaping of each phrase natural and unforced.Toby Spence, a tenor of unbridled lyricism and boldness, made the most of Gerontius’s urgent Sanctus fortis, and, after the climactic brass outburst, found anxious release in the final “Take me away, and in the lowest deep/ There let me be”. Roderick Williams was properly exalted and golden-toned as the Angel of the Agony. The stars were the BBC Proms Youth Choir – some 400 singers aged 13-25, trained by Simon Halsey and made up of seven youth choruses from across the UK (CBSO Youth Chorus, Birmingham University Voices, Ulster, the Hallé, Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, and Quay Voices). They are singing it today in Lucerne. Their lives will have been changed by this event. So were ours.

Vaughan Williams: Sancta Civitas

Vaughan Williams: Sancta Civitas

SanctaCivitas - HillDona nobis pacem

David Hill Conductor
Matthew Brook (bar)
Christina Pier (sop)
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
Bach Choir

Sancta civitas

David Hill Conductor
Matthew Brook (bar)
Andrew Staples (ten)
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
Bach Choir
Winchester Cathedral Choristers
Winchester College Quiristers

Naxos Catalogue Number: 8 572424

Brahms Tragic Overture

Brahms Tragic Overture

brahms_symphoniesRiccardo Chailly’s recently released recordings of the Brahms symphonies with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra have won high praise from the industry, being awarded the “Recording of the Year” accolade by Gramophone magazine. The set features several works in addition to the symphonies, including the Tragic Overture.  One Deutsche Grammophon, catalogue number 478 5344DH3.



Brahms: A German Requiem

Brahms: A German Requiem

Two recordings featuring the same conductor come highly recommended:

  • brahms-req-jeg2John Eliot Gardiner Conductor, Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique, Monteverdi Choir, Katharine Fuge (sop), Matthew Brook (bar), on the SDG label, catalogue number SDG706 (2012)
  • brahms-req-jegJohn Eliot Gardiner Conductor, the Monteverdi Choir, Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique,  Charlotte Margiono (sop), and Rodney Gilfry (bar) on the Classics label, catalogue number 432 140-4PH (1990)