Colin Davis has been a tireless supporter of Michael Tippett's music. He has made at least three recordings of A Child of Our Time, one of the composer's most important works: a fine 1975 studio recording for Philips, with the BBC Singers and Orchestra and a stellar group of soloists, including Jessye Norman, Janet Baker, Richard Cassilly, and John Shirley-Quirk; a live recording of a 2003 performance with the Dresden Staatskapelle; and this 2007 version with the London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. The LSO version is clean, polished, and nuanced; it's an immaculate performance by the orchestra and chorus. Davis brings a long familiarity with the score to his interpretation, which is sensitive to the work's subtle shifts in tone. Even more difficult is creating a sense of unity in a score that's an amalgam of styles, and that requires a clear vision and a disciplined hand to make its full impact. Davis is largely successful in making a case for Tippett's sometimes eccentric aesthetic choices. His reading here, as in the Dresden version, is impassioned and deeply expressive. His soloists aren't entirely even. Soprano Indra Thomas is most effective in the spirituals, but her vibrato is a little much for the solos like "How can I cherish my man in such days." Steve Davislim has a light, pleasant tenor, but occasionally his vibrato is too pronounced. Alto Mihoko Fujimura and bass Matthew Rose sing with richness and resonance and are fully engaging in their solos. The sound of the SACD is vivid and lively, with excellent balance, but occasionally, during some quiet sections, there are disconcerting suggestions of a ghostly, barely audible murmuring in the lower register.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Eddins
|A Child of Our Time, oratorio|