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Should it be a surprise that Barenboim’s Gerontius, recorded live in Berlin last autumn, is the most Wagnerian-sounding on record? Is this a bad thing? The oratorio was clearly inspired by Parsifal and the prelude here has never sounded so much like that opera’s prelude. Barenboim moulds every phrase lovingly but never cloyingly and secures orchestral playing of the very highest level, infused throughout with a burnished gold, especially in the strings. Hampson is imposing but never overstated, while Wyn-Rogers is both subtle and responsive; Staples’ lighter tenor works well too, clear and focused with both good diction and proper heft. Warm, natural recorded sound.

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