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Harrison Birtwistle (b.1934): Gawain, opera / Marie Angel, Anne Howells, Francois Le Roux, John Tomlinson. Elgar Howarth, ROH

Audio Samples

  1. Harrison Birtwistle — Gawain, Act I (1994 Revised Version): Overture [Live] $0.99 on iTunes
  2. Harrison Birtwistle — Gawain, Act I (1994 Revised Version): The Story Begins. Night After Night [Live] $0.99 on iTunes
  3. Harrison Birtwistle — Gawain, Act I (1994 Revised Version): The Court. They Tire Me [Live] $0.99 on iTunes
  4. Harrison Birtwistle — Gawain, Act I (1994 Revised Version): Three Riddles. There Was a Man [Live] $0.99 on iTunes
  5. Harrison Birtwistle — Gawain, Act I (1994 Revised Version): Door Knock, Prophesies & Threats. This Is the Hour of Legacy or Loss [Live] $0.99 on iTunes
  6. Harrison Birtwistle — Gawain, Act I (1994 Revised Version): Another Riddle. Something Stranger Than Charity [Live] $0.99 on iTunes
  7. Harrison Birtwistle — Gawain, Act I (1994 Revised Version): Door Knock, Prophesies & Threats. Now Is the Hour of Legacy or Loss [Live] $0.99 on iTunes
  8. Harrison Birtwistle — Gawain, Act I (1994 Revised Version): Entrance of the Green Knight. Now I Shall Test His Strength [Live] $0.99 on iTunes
  9. Harrison Birtwistle — Gawain, Act I (1994 Revised Version): The Green Knight Rides into the Court [Live] $0.99 on iTunes
  10. Harrison Birtwistle — Gawain, Act I (1994 Revised Version): The Raising of the Axe [Live] $0.99 on iTunes
  11. Harrison Birtwistle — Gawain, Act I (1994 Revised Version): Time Frozen. This Is the Moment That Waited for You [Live] $0.99 on iTunes
  12. Harrison Birtwistle — Gawain, Act I (1994 Revised Version): The Severed Head Instructs Gawain. My Title Is Knight of the Green Chapel [Live] $0.99 on iTunes
  13. Harrison Birtwistle — Gawain, Act I (1994 Revised Version): The Green Knight Rides Off [Live] $0.99 on iTunes
  14. Harrison Birtwistle — Gawain, Act I (1994 Revised Version): Tableau Ia. Winter. Day [Live] $0.99 on iTunes
  15. Harrison Birtwistle — Gawain, Act I (1994 Revised Version): Tableau Ib. Winter. Night. Here Is Your Second Birth [Live] $0.99 on iTunes
  16. Harrison Birtwistle — Gawain, Act I (1994 Revised Version): Tableau IIa. Spring. Day [Live] $0.99 on iTunes
  17. Harrison Birtwistle — Gawain, Act I (1994 Revised Version): Tableau IIb. Spring. Night. Here Is Your Second Skin [Live] $0.99 on iTunes
  18. Harrison Birtwistle — Gawain, Act I (1994 Revised Version): Tableau IIIa. Summer. Day [Live] $0.99 on iTunes
  19. Harrison Birtwistle — Gawain, Act I (1994 Revised Version): Tableau IIIb. Summer. Night. Here Is Your Second Flesh [Live] $0.99 on iTunes
  20. Harrison Birtwistle — Gawain, Act I (1994 Revised Version): Tableau IVa. Autumn. Day [Live] $0.99 on iTunes
  21. Harrison Birtwistle — Gawain, Act I (1994 Revised Version): Tableau IVb. Autumn. Night. Here Is Your Second Arm [Live] $0.99 on iTunes
  22. Harrison Birtwistle — Gawain, Act I (1994 Revised Version): Tableau Va. Winter II. Day [Live] $0.99 on iTunes
  23. Harrison Birtwistle — Gawain, Act I (1994 Revised Version): Tableau Vb. Winter II. Night. Here Is Your Badge of Steel [Live] $0.99 on iTunes
  24. Harrison Birtwistle — Gawain, Act I (1994 Revised Version): Tableau Vc. Winter II. Coda. Now with a Single Step [Live] $0.99 on iTunes
  25. Harrison Birtwistle — Gawain, Act II (1994 Revised Version): The Journey [Live] $0.99 on iTunes
  26. Harrison Birtwistle — Gawain, Act II (1994 Revised Version): A Glimpse. Soon What You Most Love [Live] $0.99 on iTunes
  27. Harrison Birtwistle — Gawain, Act II (1994 Revised Version): The Journey Continues. A Single Step [Live] $0.99 on iTunes
  28. Harrison Birtwistle — Gawain, Act II (1994 Revised Version): The Journey Continues. A Day, Another Day, a Week of Days [Live] $0.99 on iTunes
  29. Harrison Birtwistle — Gawain, Act II (1994 Revised Version): The Journey Continues. Another Mile, Another Day, Another Week [Live] $0.99 on iTunes
  30. Harrison Birtwistle — Gawain, Act II (1994 Revised Version): A Glimpse of the Future. This Is the Hour of Vanity or Choice [Live] $0.99 on iTunes
  31. Harrison Birtwistle — Gawain, Act II (1994 Revised Version): The Journey Continues. Mile After Mile, Day After Day, Week After Week [Live] $0.99 on iTunes
  32. Harrison Birtwistle — Gawain, Act II (1994 Revised Version): Castle de Hautdesert. Welcome, Welcome, Welcome [Live] $0.99 on iTunes
  33. Harrison Birtwistle — Gawain, Act II (1994 Revised Version): Dance Aria. Now We Shall Learn [Live] $0.99 on iTunes
  34. Harrison Birtwistle — Gawain, Act II (1994 Revised Version): The First Lullaby. Lie Down Without Fear of the Dark [Live] $0.99 on iTunes
  35. Harrison Birtwistle — Gawain, Act II (1994 Revised Version): The First Hunt & Temptation. The Door Was Unlocked [Live] $0.99 on iTunes
  36. Harrison Birtwistle — Gawain, Act II (1994 Revised Version): An Aside from Morgan le Fay. A Gift He Must Not Refuse [Live] $0.99 on iTunes
  37. Harrison Birtwistle — Gawain, Act II (1994 Revised Version): The Second Lullaby. Lie Down Without Fear of the Dark [Live] $0.99 on iTunes
  38. Harrison Birtwistle — Gawain, Act II (1994 Revised Version): The Second Hunt & Temptation. Are You Gawain? [Live] $0.99 on iTunes

Album Summary

>Birtwistle, Harrison : Gawain, opera
Conductor Ensemble Composer

Notes & Reviews:

Birtwistle's fascination with myth and ritual has influenced many of his works and this opera, its libretto by David Harsent, is based on the Arthurian legend of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, with a plot featuring castles, eerie nocturnal apparitions, evil magical powers, amorous entanglements and a singing decapitated head. This production of Gawain for the Royal Opera House, recorded by BBC Radio 3, was supported by the Arts Council of England, The Friends of Covent Garden, The John S Cohen Foundation and The Po-Shing Woo Charitable Foundation. It was originally released on Collins Classics.

Financial Times, 10th May 2014
Birtwistle's difficult vocal lines and ritualistic patterns need a high level of commitment from the listener: this is an opera best experienced with eyes as well as ears. But for those prepared to submit to its baleful orchestral sound and riddle-strewn tale, Howarth and his fine cast...provide a definitive experience.

Gramophone Magazine, August 2014
Tomlinson as the Green Knight has peerless authority and you can hear his every word...Francois Le Roux here, after a slow start, fleshes out the character of Gawain in Act 2 and becomes a worthy adversary.

BBC Music Magazine, October 2014
Tomlinson pulls off the feat magnificently. There's a deep, grainy quality to his voice that catches the sorrow and cynicism of the Green Knight perfectly...Another strength of this recording is the weirdly intense vocal sound of Marie Angel...As for the orchestral playing, it catches both the dark fatalistic quality of the score and its moments of beauty.

Opera Now
It's a listening experience that's not for the faint-hearted: from the first downbeat, Birtwistle's music pins you to the spot with its densely scored, dissonant harmonies and dramatic, sinewy vocal lines...The cast put in sterling efforts across the board, but it is Tomlinson's Green Knight/Bertilak that really carries the performance.

American Record Guide, July/August 2015
The orchestra is superb in its relentlessness, especially the terrifying tubas and brutal percussion. The sound of the Green Knight's ax is graphic. The recording, originally on Collins, production from 1994, is vivid and spacious. NMC's production, with the Green Knight's blood-spattered head adorning the cover, has the essentials, including an easy-to-read libretto.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Royal Opera House, Covent Garden (04/20/1994).



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Works Details

>Birtwistle, Harrison : Gawain, opera
  • Conductor: Elgar Howarth
  • Ensemble: Royal Opera House Orchestra
  • Running Time: 1 min. 17 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Form: Opera/Operetta
  • Written: 1991