Sir Andrew Davis takes his multi-award-winning Elgar discography to the next level with breathtaking interpretations of Falstaff, Elgar’s most accomplished and characteristic work, and several orchestral songs, with exemplary support from the BBC Philharmonic, all recorded in surround-sound. Owing to its technical challenges and more complex harmonic language, the composer always had a high opinion of Falstaff, saying that he had enjoyed writing i Gramophonet ‘more than any other music I have ever composed and perhaps for that reason it may prove to be among my best efforts’. His earlier music for Grania and Diarmid pays tribute to the Irish legend of Diarmuid and Grainne; the Funeral March is probably Elgar’s noblest creation, and echoes the popular Pomp and Circumstance Marches. The various less well-known songs, given heroic interpretations by the baritone Roderick Williams OBE, span the multiple facets of Elgar’s style, from the stern and dramatic impressions of Op. 60 to the satirical and impish jollity of ‘Kindly do not SMOKE’.
This is a superbly perceptive traversal of Elgar's Falstaff, evincing a strength of purpose, emotional candor, and meticulous attention to detail. Right from the outset there's an irresistibly idiomatic swagger, acquity, and temperament. Baritone Roderick Williams is at his eloquent best in an attractive selection of orchestral songs.