Second Concert of the Season 1928-1929
The Second Part
Relayed from the Park Hall
'KING OLAF by ELGAR
MIRIAM LICETTE (Soprano)
TREFOR JONES (Tenor)
JOSEFH FARRINGTON (Bass)
THE CHOIR OF THE CARDIFF MUSICAL Society
The NATIONAL ORCHESTRA OF WALES
Leader, ALBERT VOORSANGER
Conducted by WARWICK BRAITHWAITE
THE WRAITH OF ODIN
Chorus (Ballad), ' The guests were loud' Recit., ' Sisters, sing ye now the Song'
SIGRID Soli (Soprano and Tenor) and Chorus, Sigrid sits in her high abode '
Recit. (Bass), ' Hark, she flies from Wendland forth'
Chorus (Ballad), ' A little Bird in the Air'
Duet (Soprano and Tenor), ' The grey land breaks to lively green '
Choral Recit., ' After Gunhild's death'
THE DEATH OF OLAF
Chorus, 'King Olaf's dragons take the sea'
Solo and Chorus, ' In the Convent of Drontheim '
(By permission of Novello and Co., Ltd.)
THE central idea of this Cantata of Elgar's, to a text partly by Longfellow and partly by H. A. Ackworth , is that Bards have gathered together and take turns in narrating several parts of the great Saga ; now and again the characters of the tale themselves step out of the picture and carry on the story. As readers of Longfellow will remember, Olaf, King of Norway in the eleventh century, had embraced the Christian faith and wished to convert his people. They still worshipped the old Norse gods, Odin, Thor, and the others, made familiar to us in Wagner's Nibelung's Ring,' and they would have none of Olaf's teaching. He was only thirty-five when they killed him in battle...
The work, which was produced in 1896, begins with an Introduction and then the chorus sings the great challenge of Thor, ' I am the god Thor, I am the War god.' The tenor soloist sings of ' King Olaf's Return.' probably the best known separate number from the work, and then tenor and bass soloists and chorus join to describe the battle between Olaf and Ironbeard, who was tho champion of Odin's followers. Olaf overcomes the pagan and receives his followers into the Christian fellowship. The next number is for soprano and tenor solo and chorus, and describes the tragedy of the King's wedding with Gudrun, Ironbeard's daughter. She sought to slav her bridegroom, was discovered, and thrust from him. There is then a Choral Ballad, known as ' The Wraith of Odin,' with which this evening's performance of the second part begins; it is a splendidly vivid setting of the words, ' The guests were loud, the ale was strong.' Soprano, tenor, and the women's voices of the chorus have the next number, telling of Olaf's unlucky wooing of Sigrid, and another Choral Ballad follows that. In it we hear of Thyri, who fled from her own betrothed to wed Olaf. This is followed by a choral recitative, and a big, powerful chorus, setting forth the death of Olaf. The work comes to an end with an Epilogue for all the three solo voices, chorus and orchestra. The voice of Olaf's mother, Astrid, is heard, and a saintly voice challenges the powers of paganism. At the very end the bards join in chanting ' Greater than anger is love, and subdueth.'