Aureole etc.




Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line




If it’s the Czech works you’re after, do not hesitate

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


Some items
to consider

 


New App by the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra for iOS and Android!


BAX Orchestral pieces


CASKEN Violin Concerto

Schumann Symphonies Rattle


Complete Brahms
Bargain price

 


REVIEW


Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Hyperion

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Alto
Arcodiva
Atoll
CDAccord
Cameo Classics
Centaur
Hallé
Hortus
Lyrita
Nimbus
Northern Flowers
Redcliffe
Sheva
Talent
Toccata Classics


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample
 

alternatively
CD: AmazonUK AmazonUS
Download: Classicsonline


Edward ELGAR (1857-1934)
Variations on an Original Theme (Enigma), Op. 36 (1899) [32:46]
In the South (Alassio), Op. 50 (1904) [22:52]
Serenade, Op. 20 (1892) [11:58]
Philharmonia Orchestra/Sir Andrew Davis
rec. live, Fairfield Hall, Croydon, UK, 18 April 2007 (Enigma); Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, 19 April 2007 (In the South) and 20 May 2007
SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD168 [66:38]
Experience Classicsonline

There’s really not much to say about this one. Sir Andrew Davis in an all-Elgar programme ought to be a safe pair of hands, and so it turns out, and more besides.

The programme opens with the Enigma Variations, the phrasing of the theme as loving as one has ever heard it. The end of the first variation, C.A.E., depicting the composer’s wife, may be a little too drawn out for some tastes, but Elgar often expressed his affection for her in language at least as sweetly sentimental as this. The showy variations are splendid, but the more intimate ones are even more successful, and one comes away, perhaps more than in many performances, with the idea that some of Elgar’s friends were a melancholy lot. The cellist, Basil Nevinson, in a highly expressive reading, has rarely sounded as sad as he does here. The solo part is beautifully played, and this seems the moment to praise the outstanding orchestral playing throughout the disc, and the brilliantly characterful solo playing in particular. The Enigma Variations has been recorded many, many times, and each listener will have a favourite. I am very attached to Barbirolli in this work, though I sometimes wonder if this is not as much for sentimental reasons as for musical ones. The present performance is as fine as any I have heard, and I don’t think anyone who acquires it will be less than delighted. The recording is particularly detailed, bringing out a few points of orchestration I had never heard before, though you have to turn up the volume a fair bit to get enough punch in the louder passages, which means that the softer ones lose a little of their intimacy.

The performance of In the South is, if anything, even finer. The opening is surely the most exuberant music Elgar ever composed, and this comes over wonderfully well in this performance. Once again the orchestra is in inspired form, and this extends to the gentler, more atmospheric passages too. The work, always a winner in the concert hall, is nonetheless not one of the composer’s more coherent creations from a formal point of view, but Sir Andrew’s subtle control of tempo between the different sections disguises that very successfully. There are passages in the work where the composer runs the risk of overstepping the boundaries of taste, too, and it is a mark of the conductor’s skill that they are totally convincing. I’m thinking in particular of the passage based on hammered, repeated falling fifths (beginning at 7:12) where the listener is not sure whether Sir Andrew is moving the music on or not, only that the pulse never drags, successfully avoiding any suggestion of bombast. It’s a very fine performance and, like the Enigma, is greeted with enthusiastic applause.

This performance of the adorable Serenade will not appeal to those who want to indulge themselves, but is likely to please those who feel that Elgar knew what he wanted as regards tempo. Even so, the first and last movements here, amongst the briskest performances I know, still fall short of Elgar’s markings which do seem very fast indeed. The music is gracefully phrased, skipping rather than lilting, and is full of affection despite the conductor’s unwillingness to linger. The central slow movement, at a similarly flowing tempo, is very moving, wistful and passionate by turns, just as it should be.

The name “Philhamonia Orchestra” - albeit in trendy all lower case fashion - is given greater prominence on this disc than “Signum”, and the back cover of the booklet carries information about other Philharmonia performances on the same label. As a collaborative effort it can only be welcomed, especially at mid-price. There are very readable and informative notes by M. Ross. Newcomers to Elgar and seasoned listeners hoping for vital and individual readings of these particular works need not hesitate.

William Hedley
 
 


EXPLORE MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL

Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews

 

Discographies
   Composer
      Composer surveys
   National
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
.
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

Interviews
With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site

Nostalgia

Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Comment
Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure

Announcements

 

Community
Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Reviewers
Pat and present

Helpers invited!

Resources
How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips


Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Publishers
Other links
Newsgroups
Web News sites etc

PotPourri
A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Questionnaire    
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Dictionary
Magazines
Newsfeed  
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools




Return to Review Index

Untitled Document


Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.