Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Edward ELGAR (1857-1934)

Overture: Cockaigne, Opus 40 (1901)
Overture: Froissart, opus 19 (1890)
In the South, Opus 50 (1904)
Handel Overture in D minor (1923)
Scottish National Orchestra/Alexander Gibson
Recorded 9-10 Sept 1982, Henry Wood Hall, Glasgow
CHANDOS CHAN 6652 [54.19]


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With bright, vivid recorded sound, with abundant orchestral detail and a rich bass, this is a most attractive Elgar compilation. In other words, the Chandos engineers have come up with something that is ideal for Elgar, and which allowed the Scottish National Orchestra to sound at their considerable best. The brass are appropriately powerful, the woodwinds beautifully sensitive. If there is a criticism, though it is not a major one, it is that the string sound might have had a little more body.

Sir Alexander Gibson was always a committed Elgarian, regularly conducting the whole gamut of the master's works. He knew and loved the music, then, but his approach, as preserved here, was direct, not at all indulgent.

The music gains from this. Witness the bustle and vitality to be found in Cockaigne, for example. This is a performance full of affectionate details, less romantically inclined than some (Barbirolli on EMI comes to mind).

These same points might be applied also to Froissart, an early work but one which is wholly worthy of Elgar's genius. Gibson's performance comes off particularly well, and so too does that of the Handel Overture, a somewhat inflated reworking of music from the Chandos Anthem No. 2.

The largest of the works in this compilation is the concert overture (symphonic poem) In the South, and again the performance is most successful. This among the most Straussian of Elgar's compositions - the two composers were friends - and there is a real sweep of passionate intensity from the very beginning. On the other hand, the sensitive evocation that lies at the heart of the work, with its finely judged solos for horn and viola, is handled well too.

Much of this music is well served in the recorded music catalogue, but Gibson and the Scottish National Orchestra should not be underestimated. These performances will undoubtedly give much pleasure, and one real bonus of this Chandos issue is that the insert notes are in English only and therefore long enough to be packed full of useful information.

Terry Barfoot

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