Paul Corfield Godfrey's "Epic Scenes from The Silmarillion, Part Two: Beren & Luthien" Demo Recording
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This musical work was composed before the publication of Beren and Luthien by J R R Tolkien, ed. C R Tolkien, in 2017 and is not associated with it. The literary work is © The Tolkien Estate Limited and C R Tolkien 2017. BEREN AND LUTHIEN a trade mark of The Tolkien Estate Limited
It is with great pleasure that we can announce that our Demo Recording of Paul Corfield Godfrey’s operatic work “Beren and Luthien” after the mythology of J. R. R. Tolkien will be released by ASC Records & Prima Facie Records in August 2019.
Artwork for the release provided by Ted Nasmith.
All artists appear by arrangement with Welsh National Opera.
Below is the press release from Prima Facie:
Prima Facie Records is pleased to announce the release of Beren and Luthien (complete demo recording) PFCD110/111
BEREN AND LUTHIEN
Following the successful release last year of The Fall of Gondolin, the closing segment of the series of ‘epic scenes’ drawn from J R R Tolkien’s posthumous writings for The Silmarillion, Prima Facie Records in collaboration with Volante Opera Productions now presents a recording on 2 CDs of Beren and Lúthien, Part Two of Paul Corfield Godfrey’s cycle written during the period 1982-97 and employing a large variety of posthumously published texts by the author with the permission of the Tolkien Estate. The cycle, extending in performance over four evenings, is the largest-scale work of classical music written in Wales in the twentieth century, demanding a full roster of solo singers, chorus and orchestra, but has only ever been performed in excerpts until now.
As before, the singers are all professional artists from Welsh National Opera, and the sets make available for the first time a fully representative recording of the music with the complete lyrics by Tolkien. Because of budgetary and other constraints, the orchestra is represented by sampled sets (using the sounds of real instruments) which have been carefully balanced and adjusted in collaboration with the composer to obtain as close a result to the sound of an actual orchestra as possible. Commenting on this aspect, Brian Wilson in a review of The Fall of Gondolin for Music Web International remarked “I wondered how well this would work, but need have had no apprehensions; it works very well and it’s the only way such a project could have been realised. I need only say that the music is often hauntingly beautiful.”
The booklet with this set of Beren and Lúthien explains the methods of production in greater detail, and also includes an essay by the composer on the manner in which the author’s text has been adapted for music. Chris Seeman, reviewing The Fall of Gondolin for the Tolkien Music Website, remarked that the work “delivers nearly two hours of pure Tolkienian epic – Tolkienian not simply by virtue of its subject matter but more importantly by its libretto, which is 100% Tolkien’s own text. Or rather texts. In order to flesh out each essential movement of the story, Godfrey has made eclectic use of a variety of texts pertaining to the tale, much as the published Silmarillion was synthesised by Christopher Tolkien from the different manuscripts available to him.” He described the set as “a superb rendition of an unparalleled story [whose] greatest virtue lies in its ability to enhance rather than overshadow that story.”
For reviews please click on the links below.
Our trailer for the recording.
Composer Paul Corfield Godfrey introduces "Beren and Luthien" with excerpts from the recording.
Composer Paul Corfield Godfrey does a brief analysis of "Beren and Luthien" with excerpts from the recording.
The first sample is from the love scene (Scene 3) and is a choral interlude that takes place as the lovers share their first embrace.
The second sample is from the orchestral music for Luthien's dance before Morgoth.
The third sample is from the final duet between Beren and Luthien, Beren dying in his the arms of his beloved.
"The Silmarillion Part Two: Beren & Luthien" is composed for eight characters, full chorus and orchestra.
The characters are as follows (in order of singing):
Finrod Felagund, the King of Nargothrond (Tenor): Simon Crosby Buttle
Sauron, servant of Morgoth (Bass): Jasey Hall
Gorlim, follower of Beren (Tenor): Michael Clifton-Thompson
Beren, son of Barahir (Baritone): Julian Boyce
Lúthien Tinúviel, daughter of Thingol (Soprano): Angharad Morgan
Thingol Greycloak, King of Doriath (Bass): Martin Lloyd
Melian, his queen (Mezzo-Soprano): Helen Jarmany
Morgoth, the enemy (Bass): Laurence Cole
Chorus of unseen voices: Anitra Blaxhall/Emma Mary Llewellyn/Helen Jarmany/Helen Greenaway/Michael Clifton-Thompson/
Simon Crosby Buttle/Julian Boyce/Jasey Hall
It is written in nine scenes plus a prologue and epilogue, a breakdown of which I add below.
The Chorus describes the Battle of Sudden Flame, the Dagor Bragollach; the Elvenking Finrod Felagund is saved from the forces of Morgoth by the intervention of the mortal Beren son of Barahir, to whom he swears an oath promising him assistance in the event of any future need.
After Finrod returns to his kingdom of Nargothrond, Sauron the servant of Morgoth captures Gorlim, one of Beren’s followers. He promises to release his wife from captivity if Gorlim will betray the whereabouts of Beren. The information is given, but Sauron nevertheless has him killed.
Beren is in hiding near the lake of Tarn Aeluin. He sings of the loss of Gorlim and his journey in the woods. The chorus describes the apparition of the ghost of Gorlim, who warns of his betrayal and urges him to flee. Beren vows vengeance, and the chorus describes his flight into the forest of Doriath.
They describe his journey through the haunted Mountains of Terror. A distant flute is heard in the woods as Lúthien begins her dance.  She sings an Elvish poem. The sudden appearance of Beren startles her, and she flees into the forest. Beren is abandoned, but she soon reappears and invites him to join in her dance. Beren gradually approaches her, calling her Elvish name, and as the distant flute is heard once more she sinks into his arms.
The scene changes to the Halls of Menegroth, the court of Thingol Lúthien’s father. The latter challenges Beren to explain his presence, but learning that he desires the hand of his daughter threatens him with death. Thingol’s immortal wife Melian warns him that he may not kill Beren, whose fate is wound with his; and Thingol declares that he will only yield Lúthien to Beren if the latter will bring him a Silmaril from Morgoth’s crown. After Beren has agreed and left on his apparently hopefless quest, Melian observes that Thingol has doomed either his daughter or himself.
Beren seeks the assistance of Finrod Felagund, who describes the dangers that are involved in his quest. He seeks the aid of his people, but the sons of Fëanor repeat their Oath of vengeance on any who seeks to withhold a Silmaril from them as the rightful owners of the jewels; and none of the Elves of Nargothrond will follow their king. Finrod abandons his throne and sets forth with Beren.
Sauron confronts the disguised Finrod and Beren, asking them for information. He strips their concealment from them in a contest of enchantments and confines them in a dungeon. There Finrod is killed by a wolf as he tries to protect Beren. He dies, bidding Beren farewell. Beren hears the distant voice of Lúthien who has come to rescue him. She overcomes Sauron and banishes him; and then, finding Beren, declares that she will undertake his quest alongside him despite the dangers.
The chorus describe the fortress of Morgoth. Beren and Lúthien encounter Carcharoth, the Wolf of Angband, and cast him into slumber. They descend to confront Morgoth, who conceives in his heart a desire for Lúthien. She dances before him, but then casts a spell over him and his court rendering them unconscious. Beren cuts a Silmaril from Morgoth’s crown, but the roused Carcharoth then bites off his hand and swallows both that and the jewel.
The orchestra describes the flight of Beren and Lúthien, aided by the eagles, and their return to Doriath. The mortally wounded Beren bids farewell to the earth and to his love, but Lúthien tells him that she will follow him wherever he goes. Thingol enters to seek his prize, but Beren succumbs to his wounds.
The chorus describes Lúthien’s journey to the Halls of Mandos, where the dead wait. She sings a song before Mandos, who allows Beren to rejoin her in life for the duration of their mortal spans.
The chorus sings of their journey back into the forest, singing sorrowless.
For more information, annotated libretto and analysis please visit the composer's website (link at the bottom of this page)
Demo Recording Information
The recording is being produced using Reaper software and is utilising the Eastwest Software/Quantum Leap Symphonic Orchestra sampled instruments.
The main parts: Finrod, Sauron, Gorlim, Beren, Luthien, Thingol, Melian and Morgoth will all be recorded using different professional singers.
The Chorus will be recorded two per voice part, as per Gondolin, which would accommodate the splits in the parts. Each of these voices, due to the limited space and equipment, is recorded individually and post processed to fit with the others. This is the method we use when creating learning tracks for choirs, as it gives us the opportunity to isolate parts and fix problems without having to have everyone back to re-record.