Richard Hickox

Within a Dream: A Celebration of the Artistry of Richard Hickox

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This two-disc set makes an ideal introduction to the art of English conductor Richard Hickox. As a memorial, it is close to heartbreaking. Every aspect of his music-making is touched on: his superlative opera recordings, his outstanding choral recordings, his brilliant early music recordings, and above all, his magnificent series of recordings of music by English composers. It is programmed with such art and insight that the results offer a fair measure of Hickox's achievement. The first disc's progression, from the glorious surge of Bridge's The Sea, through the ardent passion of Britten's Albert Herring, the luminous colors of Vaughan Williams' A London Symphony, the restful serenity of Mendelssohn's Elijah, and the noble intensity of Elgar's Second Symphony, to the blessed forgiveness of Britten's War Requiem, forms a moving portrait of the conductor. Ending the second disc with an ecstatic performance of "They are not long, the weeping and the laughter" from Delius' Songs of Sunset is poignant beyond words. For the listener who knows nothing of Hickox, these recordings may be the place to start, though the sense of loss is almost unbearable. Chandos' sound is consistently rich, deep, and colorful.

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