Critic’s Choice

April 18, 2018 at 5:34 pm

By Aaron Keebaugh

Edward Elgar

Edward Elgar

Cardinal John Henry Newman’s poem “The Dream of Gerontius” had attracted a number of composers; Antonin Dvorák even considered setting it to music. But no composer captured the spiritual depths of Newman’s tale of death, judgment, and the afterlife quite like Edward Elgar.

His The Dream of Gerontius, a work situated somewhere between concert opera and oratorio and based upon Newman’s text, stands as Elgar’s most personal and profound achievement.

Friday night at Symphony Hall, Benjamin Zander will lead the Boston Philharmonic in the orchestra’s first performance of Elgar’s radiant score since 2001. Soloists will include tenor Robert Murray in the role of Gerontius, the dying and spiritual Everyman. Mezzo-soprano Madeleine Shaw will perform as Gerontius’ Guardian Angel, and bass Derek Welton will sing the roles of the Priest and Angel of the Agony. Chorus pro Musica, prepared by Jamie Kirsch, will supply the voices of demons and angels in the work’s choral parts.

The performance will take place 8 p.m. Friday in Symphony Hall.

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