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“Every aspect of this performance sounds like a labour of love. Rudge’s soaring, expressive singing as Meshullemeth gives the piece its real heart, and she’s accompanied with intense sympathy by the conductor William Vann, who avoids any suggestion of bombast or sentimentality, and builds Parry’s great paragraphs so eloquently and with such assurance that you’d think he’d been conducting this music all his life.” Gramophone
Parry’s 1888 oratorio on the Apocryphal tale of an avenging Jewish widow emerges as a worthy successor to Mendelssohn’s Elijah in this gripping world premiere recording with Sarah Fox, Kathryn Rudge and Toby Spence.
Recorded after the first London performance for over 130 years, Parry’s neglected oratorio here appears on disc for the very first time. Having been commissioned by the Birmingham Festival, Parry decided to combine the Old Testament stories of Manasseh and Judith. A good deal of the libretto was provided by Parry himself, who took other texts from the biblical books of Isaiah, Psalms, and Judith. Having originally conceived the work in four acts, Parry condensed it into two. Judith was premiered by Richter in Birmingham in August 1888, and it consolidated Parry’s reputation as a choral composer, numerous performances following in Edinburgh and in London. Although popular in his lifetime, Judith fell into obscurity after Parry’s death.