Ford: Night and Dreams; Schoenberg: Ode to Napoleon

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Gerald English was a founder member of the legendary Deller Consort; he sang under the batons of Stravinsky, Ansermet, Vaughan Williams, Britten, Barbirolli and Beecham; he premiered works by Tippett, Henze, Berio and Dallapiccola. He also premiered 12 pieces by the Australian composer (and broadcaster), Andrew Ford. The last of these, the one-man music-theatre piece Night and Dreams: the death of Sigmund Freud was commissioned by the 2000 Adelaide Festival. We find ourselves in the exiled Freud's London home in September 1939, as the father of psychoanalysis confronts his own death while dreaming of Vienna, Schubert and a strange, unidentified girl. In the Sydney Morning Herald, Roger Covell wrote of the premiere that 'English . . . acts out Freud's reveries with a keen sense of timing and humour. The feeling of physical presence in the last hours of the great theorist is vivid'. Described by other critics as 'stunningly intelligent, intensely moving' (The Age), 'powerful and eerie' (The Australian) and 'electrifying' (The Canberra Times), Night and Dreams had sell-out seasons at the 2001 Sydney and Melbourne festivals, and this ABC studio recording of the 75-year-old English's 'virtuoso performance' (UK Opera magazine) is now commercially available for the first time. It is paired with Schoenberg's Ode to Napoleon, the work of another Viennese in exile. Schoenberg composed his brilliant setting of Byron's sardonic ode in Hollywood in 1942, scoring it for reciter and piano quintet. Gerald English recorded the work with the London Sinfonietta for Schoenberg's centenary in 1974 and this is its first release on CD.