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English Music For Strings / Barbirolli


Release Date: 10/12/2010 
Label:  Emi Classics   Catalog #: 31788   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Sir Edward ElgarRalph Vaughan WilliamsFrederick Delius
Conductor:  Sir John Barbirolli
Orchestra/Ensemble:  City of London SinfoniaAllegri String QuartetNew Philharmonia Orchestra,   ... 
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 58 Mins. 

CD not available: This title is currently only available as an MP3 download.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

These performances defy criticism. They really don’t make them like this any more.

English String Music is the name of one of Glorious John’s very best LPs, and it has long been seen as a touchstone of great string playing, and of great English string music. This is Barbirolli at the peak of his career, directing music he loves. Indeed, it is one of the great records; a miraculous achievement of the right personnel, the right conductor and the right repertoire. Rarely comest thou, Spirit of Delight!, Elgar wrote at the head of his 2 nd Symphony, and the same could be said of this recording. These performances defy criticism, so I am not going to criticise merely
Read more introduce them to those unfortunate not to have heard them.

The Introduction and Allegro and Tallis Fantasia both have the addition of the original Allegri Quartet – shame on EMI for not making mention of their participation in large print on the cover of the booklet – and how well the four players complement the massed strings, and join in the fabulous music-making. JB made the first two recordings of the Introduction and Allegro – Elgar never recorded it but knew Barbirolli’s recordings, saying that he had never realised what a big piece it was! Barbirolli’s second (1929) recording of the work can be found on Barbirolli Society (CDSJB 1999 – a 2 CD set of varied material) . In JB’s hands it is a big piece – I have never heard it sound so full and resplendent – and he pulls out all the stops for this performance, giving a powerhouse of a performance. On top of that there is the marvellous moment, at 9:46 where the great William Pleeth leads the music into the recapitulation – sensational!

The Serenade receives a bit of a hothouse performance but it can stand this con amore approach for JB is utterly sincere in his direction. He even proves that the slow movement is, quite obviously, the forerunner of the great slow movements in the Symphonies.

The Tallis Fantasia gains from being recorded in the Temple Church and that acoustic lets the music breathe and expand to fill the space. It also allows for the distant orchestra to be heard clearly in relation to the full body of strings. And just listen to JB’s magnificent use of rubato at 10:48. Superb!

The Greensleeves Fantasia brought that LP to a delectable conclusion, and it is a lovely sweetmeat, before Delius’s visit to the countryside. Thus ends English String Music, the LP. The only thing which could have made it perfect would have been a reprint of Burnett James’s original sleeve-notes!

The Elegy – Elgar’s epitaph for his friend A.E. Jaeger, Nimrod of the Enigma – and Sospiri come from an LP of Elgar’s music, which included the five Pomp and Circumstance Marches – what a suite of music that is! They are both deeply-felt works and JB brings out all the longing and pathos of the music in beautifully understated performances.

This recording of Brigg Fair comes from JB’s last recording session and what a performance it is! JB’s Delius is more romantic, more languid, than Beecham’s, but it is equally valid. This performance makes Brigg Fair into the symphonic movement it so obvious is – it’s more coherent, with regard to form, than much of Delius, but it’s seldom seen that way. JB characterises each variation well and the funeral march is especially impressive.

These transfers are exemplary. The notes, by the wonderful Michael Kennedy are excellent. If this disk isn’t in your collection it should be. There is no excuse for its omission. This is perfection. It’s true. They really don’t make them like this any more.

-- Bob Briggs, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1.
Introduction and Allegro for String Quartet and String Orchestra, Op. 47 by Sir Edward Elgar
Conductor:  Sir John Barbirolli
Orchestra/Ensemble:  City of London Sinfonia,  Allegri String Quartet
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1904-1905; England 
2.
Serenade for Strings in E minor, Op. 20 by Sir Edward Elgar
Conductor:  Sir John Barbirolli
Orchestra/Ensemble:  City of London Sinfonia
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1892; England 
3.
Elegy for Strings, Op. 58 by Sir Edward Elgar
Conductor:  Sir John Barbirolli
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1909; England 
4.
Sospiri, Op. 70 by Sir Edward Elgar
Conductor:  Sir John Barbirolli
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1914; England 
5.
Fantasia on a theme by Thomas Tallis by Ralph Vaughan Williams
Conductor:  Sir John Barbirolli
Orchestra/Ensemble:  City of London Sinfonia
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1910/1919; England 
6.
Fantasia on Greensleeves by Ralph Vaughan Williams
Conductor:  Sir John Barbirolli
Orchestra/Ensemble:  City of London Sinfonia
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1934; England 
7.
Brigg Fair - An English Rhapsody by Frederick Delius
Conductor:  Sir John Barbirolli
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hallé Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1907; France 

Sound Samples

Introduction and Allegro for string quartet and string orchestra Op. 47 (2000 Digital Remaster)
Introduction and Allegro, Op.47 (2000 Digital Remaster): Introduction and Allegro, Op.47
Serenade in E Minor, Op.20 (2000 Digital Remaster): I. Allegro piacevole
Serenade in E minor Op. 20 (2000 Digital Remaster): I. Allegro piacevole
Serenade in E Minor, Op.20 (2000 Digital Remaster): II. Larghetto
Serenade in E minor Op. 20 (2000 Digital Remaster): II. Larghetto
Serenade in E Minor, Op.20 (2000 Digital Remaster): III. Allegretto - Come prima
Serenade in E minor Op. 20 (2000 Digital Remaster): III. Allegretto - Come prima
Elegy Op. 58 (2000 Digital Remaster)
Elegy, Op.58 (2000 Digital Remaster): Elegy, Op.58
Sospiri, Op.70 (2000 Digital Remaster): Sospiri, Op.70
Sospiri Op. 70 (2000 Digital Remaster)
Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis: Williams: Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis
Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis (2000 Digital Remaster)
Fantasia on 'Greensleeves' (2000 Digital Remaster)
Fantasia on 'Greensleeves' (2000 - Remaster): Fantasia on 'Greensleeves'
Brigg Fair - An English Rhapsody (1994 Digital Remaster)
Brigg Fair - An English Rhapsody (1994 - Remaster): Brigg Fair - An English Rhapsody

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