Three of Elgar's greatest orchestral works are featured
here at the attractive Apex price. This reissue of 1991 performances
(previously available on Teldec) makes an attractive proposition, since
the orchestra clearly knows the music well and the conductor is among
the leaders in this field.
The Cockaigne Overture always presents an orchestra
with the opportunity to sound at its best, and the BBC Symphony Orchestra
certainly does so, captured in warmly atmospheric sound which allows
for the richly sonorous climaxes to make their mark. Davis makes excellent
point of the musical range, articulating the rhythmic details crisply,
while also giving due emphasis to the tender lyricism which lies at
the opposite pole of this wonderful score.
While the Introduction and Allegro as conducted by
Davis does not alter the position of Barbirolli's famous performance
as the leader in the field, it remains highly satisfactory. The dynamic
shadings allow the range of the musical expression to be felt, and the
sound of the BBC Symphony Orchestra strings is nothing if not pleasing.
The largest of the three works is the famous Enigma
Variations. This is played with real freshness, the tempi always appropriately
judged: the noble Nimrod variation comes over splendidly, for example.
Perhaps the sound at climactic moments is not quite as full bodied as
it might be, but the sweep of momentum in the closing stages is still