Notes and Editorial Reviews
"What a wonderful work this is...The alternating ebullience and inward lyricism of the outer movements, the terrifying “malign influence” that encroaches upon the previously blithe Scherzo in its central episode, and the rarefied poetry of the work’s conclusion (echoing on a somewhat more spacious scale the quiet end of Brahms’s Third Symphony, a work Elgar loved) all qualify this to be regarded as one of the greatest symphonic achievements of the last 100 years...there is nothing leaden-footed about Elder either. He blends gravity of bearing with the most refined and delicate articulation and phrasing. He has brought his orchestra to a pitch of virtuosity beyond anything it commanded even in Barbirolli’s day. And there are some quite
unsurpassed passages in his performance, such as that threatening episode in the Scherzo, which for sheer terror outdoes any other version I can remember hearing...With regard to the Introduction and Allegro, there is no need for any tiresomely balanced weighing of the competition. This is, I think, by some margin the best performance of the work yet put on disc, with impeccable pacing, string-playing of tremendous heft and brilliance, and a highly effective differentiation of acoustic between the orchestral string body and the solo quartet. As usual with this series, we are also offered a welcome bonne bouche, in this case an eloquent reading by Elder himself of the Shelley poem from which Elgar took the phrase that heads the score of the Second Symphony: “Rarely, rarely comest thou, Spirit of Delight!” In everyday life, maybe so. But it comes remarkably often on this admirable disc."
- Bernard Jacobson, FANFARE
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