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Notes and Editorial Reviews
Andrew Davis' Elgar recordings for Teldec (especially the symphonies) are widely rated as exceptional, and this compilation, first released in Teldec's British Line series in 1991, has few serious rivals. The most immediately appreciable benefit here is the excellence of the sound in Christopher Palmer's productions from London's St. Augustine's Church. There's enough natural resonance to convey the martial swagger of brass in full cry in Cockaigne, but at the opposite end of the dynamic scale there's ample warmth and immediacy too, giving the String Serenade an intimate, chamber-like atmosphere in this touchingly understated performance.
Davis superbly characterizes Enigma's
"friends pictured within". The recording imparts a misty, dream-like feel to the cryptic opening theme, and the individual cameos that follow afford compelling insights into their subjects. The blustering country squire "WMB" slams the drawing room door imperiously on his way out (Var. 4), and the amateur violist "Ysobel" struggles patiently with a simple string-crossing exercise in her variation (6). Basil Nevinson's eloquent seriousness is skillfully portrayed by the cello soloist in Var. 12, and the pin-sharp recording effectively conveys the timpanist's coin-drumming (evoking a distantly heard ship engine) in the penultimate variation. Finally, the composer himself emerges, and Davis presents him as a man of energy and purpose. It's good to hear Elgar's optional organ part (most recordings overlook it) both here and in the final section of Cockaigne. The BBC strings give a disciplined, confident performance of the Introduction and Allegro, with a biting, racy fugue and excellent (but uncredited) solo quartet.
--Michael Jameson, ClassicsToday.com Read less
Works on This Recording
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
Great Performance of Core Elgar Works October 20, 2012
By Henry S. (Springfield, VA) See All My Reviews
"The immediate impression one gets from this recording is the glorious sound of the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Sir Andrew Davis. The pieces on this disk are not unknown; there are many excellent recordings of the Enigma Variations and the Cockiaigne Overture, for example. This recording ranks right up there with the best, with an authentic and powerful British approach taken by Davis. If you already own Elgar, there probably is no compelling reason to rush out after this disk. On the other hand, a new collector should seriously consider this recording. It's excellent! Recommended."