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Tolkien in music

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Author Topic: Tolkien in music  (Read 3389 times)
paul corfield godfrey
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« Reply #15 on: March 02, 2022, 04:21:47 pm »


With the release of Fëanor on a new double CD, Prima Facie Records and Volante Opera complete their recording of Paul Corfield Godfrey’s cycle of “epic scenes from The Silmarillion” after the mythology of J R R Tolkien. The nine hours which constitute the complete cycle form the largest work of classical music written in Wales in the twentieth century, and are performed by singers from Welsh National Opera together with a sampled (not synthesised) orchestra. The booklets which come with each of the four double albums contain detailed explanations of the manner in which the recording have been made, as well as track listings, synopses, and an essay on each of the relevant parts by the composer.

Quite apart from the sheer scale of the work, the “epic scenes from The Silmarillion” are also unique in that (unlike nearly all of the Tolkien-influenced music available) the texts are drawn entirely from the words of Tolkien himself, with the agreement and permission of the Tolkien Estate. This certainly makes the score the most substantial vocal setting of any Tolkien material available.

The completion of the recording of this massive cycle is of course a major event, and we would very much hope that it will receive widespread attention. Full and vocal scores are also available for purchase, and the complete texts (including where relevant translations from Elvish) and musical analysis are all available from

Earlier releases in the cycle:
Beren and Lúthien   PFCD 110/111
“Godfrey’s libretto freely alternates among the different extant versions of the story. The result, textually speaking, is a patchwork; from an operatic standpoint, however, it’s a tour de force of words delivered with passion and epic grandeur. This is hands-down the most potent actualization of Tolkien’s writing I have heard to date.”   Tolkien Music [Chris Seeman]

The Children of Húrin   PFCD 126/127
“CD2 opens with [a] Prelude worthy of mention in the same sentence as that of Sibelius, and closes with music of loss shot through with hope and tenderness. The detailed notes aptly refer to gentle benediction and an unravelling of the web of myth through which the tragic history has been viewed. Húrin’s final words are significant: ‘She was not conquered’. It’s a very different ending from that of Götterdämmerung, but it’s worthy of mention in the same sentence – and there’s not much that is, in my book.”   MusicWeb International [Brian Wilson]

The Fall of Gondolin  PFCD 092/093
“A thing that stands out from the moment you put the CD onto your audio system is the sheer professionalism with which the singers do their respective parts; all are singers with Welsh National Opera, and at times they allow themselves to show the fun they had creating this marvel.”   Unquendor [Jeroen Bakker]
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