Following the success of The Dream of Gerontius in 1900 and The Apostles in 1903, the Birmingham Triennial Music Festival commissioned Elgar to produce another large oratorio for the 1906 festival. The Kingdom continues the narrative of the lives of Jesus’ disciples, depicting the community of the early church, Pentecost, and the events of the next few days. Although less frequently performed than The Dream of Gerontius, The Kingdom is considered one of Elgar’s greatest choral works, and deserves to rank alongside it.
This re-release of the 1989 recording also features Sursum Corda and Sospiri, two short, reflective instrumental pieces. If in the former – produced in a great hurry in 1894 – Elgar adopted a style which was to mature over the next years, he was overtaken by his own nature in the latter – first performed soon after the outbreak of war in 1914 – and produced a heartfelt personal statement which in its small compass conveys the emotion of the great slow movements of his finest works.