Paul Corfield Godfrey's "The Silmarillion, Part One: Feanor" Demo Recording
Will be released on the 22nd April on:
This musical work was composed before the publication of The Children of Hurin by J R R Tolkien, ed. C R Tolkien, in 2007 and is not associated with it.
The literary work is © The Tolkien Estate Limited and C R Tolkien 2007.
It is with great pleasure that we can announce that our Demo Recording of Paul Corfield Godfrey’s operatic work “Feanor" after the mythology of J. R. R. Tolkien will be released by ASC Records & Prima Facie Records in April 2022.
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 Feanor (complete demo recording) PFCD178/179
The completion in 1996 of the “epic scenes from The Silmarillion”, a four-part cycle drawn from the posthumous writings of J R R Tolkien, constituted the largest-scale work of classical music written in Wales in the twentieth century. With this landmark release of Fëanor, following on from their earlier successful issues of Beren and Lúthien, The Children of Húrin and The Fall of Gondolin, Prima Facie in collaboration with Volante Opera Productions now completes the recording of that original cycle; and a further episode, The War of Wrath, written in 2019-21, is to follow in due course. All of these works employ a variety of posthumously published texts by the author with the permission of the Tolkien Estate. As before, the singers are all professional artists from Welsh National Opera; the booklet 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. The late Brian Wilson, reviewing The Children of Húrin for MusicWeb International, drew comparisons between the “genuinely epic” music of the cycle and that of Sibelius, Hildegard of Bingen, Vaughan Williams, Holst and Wagner: “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.”
The first sample is from the end of Scene One where the chorus are describing the beauty of the Elves at the beginning of their time in Middle-earth.
This excerpt is from the end of Scene Six where Feanor has been warned by the Elder King not to pursue his path of vengeance against Morgoth. He defiantly responds...
This is part of the orchestral prelude to Scene Seven which depicts the Shores of Valinor with the Great Sea to the East.
"The Silmarillion Part One: Feanor" is composed for fourteen characters, full chorus and orchestra.
The characters are as follows (in order of singing):
Melkor (later Morgoth), the enemy (Bass): Laurence Cole
Fingolfin, son of King Finwe (Baritone): Philip Lloyd-Evans
Feanor, son of King Finwe (Tenor): Simon Crosby Buttle
Mandos, Lord of the Realm of Death (Baritone): Julian Boyce
Elbereth, Queen of Light and spouse of the Elder King (Soprano): Emma Mary Llewellyn
The Elder King, Lord of the Valar in Middle Earth (Bass): George Newton-Fitzgerald
Maedhros, son of Feanor (Baritone): Stephen Wells
Maglor, son of Feanor (Tenor): Michael Clifton-Thompson
Celegorm, son of Feanor (Baritone): Philip Lloyd-Evans
Curufin, son of Feanor (Baritone): Julian Boyce
Caranthir, son of Feanor (Bass): George Newton-Fitzgerald
Amrod, son of Feanor (Bass): Laurence Cole
Amras, son of Feanor (Bass): Jasey Hall
Olwe, King of the Teleri in the Blessed Realm (Tenor): Michael Clifton-Thompson
Chorus of unseen voices:
Emma Mary Llewellyn/Paula Greenwood/Sophie Yelland/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 is below.
Prologue (8 minutes):
The orchestra describes the creation of the world by Iluvatar from primeval chaos.
Scene One (14 minutes):
The Chorus (SSAATTBB) describe the coming of the Firstborn Children, Elbereth creating the stars and the awakening of the elves.
Scene Two (10 minutes):
The Chorus (SSAATTBB) introduce Melkor and his desire to corrupt the Elves, the Valar summoning the Elves to Valinor and the creation of the Two Trees to give light to the land.
Scene Three (16 minutes):
The Chorus (SSAATTBB) sing of Finwe the King of the Elves and the birth of Feanor, the death of his wife Miriel, his second marriage, the birth of his other sons and of Feanor forging the Silmarils from the light of the Two Trees.
Scene Four (13 minutes):
The Chorus (SSAATTBB) tell of Melkor's lust for the Silmarils. Melkor sows dissent between Finwe's children. Feanor draws his sword upon Fingolfin before his father and is banished by Mandos for twelve years. Feanor realises Melkor's purpose and drives him away.
Scene Five (27 minutes):
The Chorus (SSAATTBB) introduce Ungoliant. Melkor bargains with her to help him destroy the Two Trees and take the Silmarils. Fingolfin reunites with Feanor upon his return from exile. The Chorus (SSAATTBB) sing of the destruction of the Trees. Elbereth needs the Silmarils from Feanor so that she can once again bring life to the Trees. The Elder King demands them from Feanor. Feanor does not trust the Valar, knowing Melkor to be one of their number, and refuses to hand them over. Maedhros, Feanor's son, enters with news of the death of Finwe and the theft of the Silmarils by Melkor. Feanor curses Melkor, naming him Morgoth, the Black foe of the world.
Scene Six (12 minutes):
Feanor summons the Elves to follow him in pursuit of Morgoth. He and his sons swear an oath of vengeance against any who would keep the Silmarils from them. The Elder King warns Feanor that his pursuit is in vain, but Feanor is unmoved.
Scene Seven (7 minutes):
The Chorus (SSAATTBB) sing of the Elves' dismay at Feanor's oath. Feanor seeks to persuade Olwe to lend them ships to sail to Middle-Earth in pursuit of Morgoth. Olwe refuses to go against the will of the Valar so Feanor takes the ships by force, killing any who resist him.
Scene Eight (12 minutes):
The Chorus (SSAATTBB) describe the journey to Middle Earth. Mandos, the keeper of the dead, learns of Feanor's slaying of the elves and lays a curse on him and all who follow him, forever denying them a return to the Blessed Realm. Feanor intends to press on with his quest.
Scene Nine (7 minutes):
Ungoliant (SSAA) and Morgoth quarrel over their spoils and he banishes her and keeps the Silmarils for himself. Maedros asks his father what they should do with the ships now they are in Middle-Earth. Feanor tells him to burn them rather than send them back for his half brothers to follow. The Chorus (SSAATTBB) sing of Finrod witnessing this from afar.
Epilogue (3 minutes):
The orchestra depict the death of Feanor as he finally confronts Morgoth.
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 will all be recorded using different professional singers with some doubling.
The Chorus will be recorded two per voice part, as per Gondolin, Beren and Hurin 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.