Notes and Editorial Reviews
Hickox and his Welsh players do Elgar proud on a spectacular disc
Hickox and the BBC NOW follow their Elgar Second (11/05) with this impressive No 1, in many ways even finer. The SACD recording is spectacular; you really appreciate the sharpness of articulation of the Cardiff players. Next to this, Handley’s benchmark CfP recording (8/88R), lacks a little in focus and clarity, and even the brilliant Solti Decca recording (7/95) can’t quite match it.
Hickox’s interpretation is comparably impressive, particularly so in the first movement where he has a cunning way of presenting the great Elgarian melodies simply. In the tricky transition from
two in a bar to three (tr 1, 6'25") Hickox broadens the tempo where Handley and Solti follow the composer’s example in keeping the minim beat steady. Nonetheless Hickox makes that moment a magnificent climax.
Hickox’s control of such climaxes is masterly. In the Scherzo the articulation of the violins and the sharpness of attack is thrilling. In the great melodies of the slow movement Hickox tenderly brings out a songlike quality, making others seem a little studied. The delicate pianissimo as the third theme enters (tr 3, 9'12") is breathtaking. The two great “gulp” moments in the finale come at the climax of the passage where the theme of the slow introduction comes in augmentation; there Hickox comes near to matching Elgar himself in impact. Finally, he secures a superbly satisfying crescendo on the brass on the final chord.
The generous coupling adds to the attractions of the disc, an orchestration, pioneered on disc by Handley, of a work which should be far better known. The qualities which make Hickox’s reading of the Symphony so impressive come out here too, crowning an outstanding new issue.
-- Edward Greenfield, Gramophone [8/2007]
Works on This Recording
Sonata for Organ in G major, Op. 28 by Sir Edward Elgar
BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Written: 1895; England
Notes: Arranger: Gordon Jacob.
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