This low priced re-issue
of a Tring recording is not a straight
re-issue of the original, which had
instead of the Nursery Suite and
Chanson de Matin, a superb recording
of Elgarís In the South. Quite
why it was not re-issued in full, I
am not sure, but good as this is, I
would have preferred the original.
Yehudi Menuhin, never
an inspirational conductor, nevertheless
had a long and successful career in
this profession with many good recordings
under his belt. Although he was not
particularly super-competent, he was
always treated with the respect he deserved
by the ensembles he worked with. He
produced some very good recordings,
better in fact than one might have expected.
This is one of them.
He obviously had, based
upon the evidence of this recording,
a very good relationship with the Royal
Philharmonic, an orchestra which was,
as now, having a tough time in the classical
music field. This relationship has here
produced performances of Elgarís works
which, whilst not leading the field
are by no means at the bottom. Given
the very low price and the simplifying
of the repertoire, the disc may well
do quite well in the shops given how
well known Menuhinís name is.
The disc opens with
the Pomp and Circumstance March No.
4. While lacking the authority of
a Barbirolli or a Boult the march is
nevertheless given a boisterous and
stirring performance which many will
enjoy. The recording expands magnificently
to cause quite a thrill. We next move
on to the gently engaging Chanson
de Matin. It is not difficult music,
and the performance goes very well.
The Nursery Suite, inspired by
the birth of Princess Margaret Rose,
is late Elgar, The seven movements are
relatively simple with not much to detain
the listener. The work was dedicated
to both Princesses, and is in the style
of The Wand of Youth suites.
At an early run-through in the presence
of the Royal Family and other VIPs including
Bernard Shaw, it was remarked that although
written for the nursery, there was much
more to the music than the simplicity
of the subject matter might suggest.
By the time we reach
the Enigma Variations, the listener
will have picked up the impression that
we are in for a gentle performance.
However this is not a gentle Enigma.
There is real muscle in this performance
as becomes noticeable at a reasonably
early stage. The orchestra respond exceptionally
well. The brass and percussion dominate
in parts - where it is necessary. The
organ reinforces the bottom end of the
score in the last variation and does
so in a most impressive way. Although
the sound of the brass is somewhat over-enthusiastic
and can sometimes run away with itself,
I would far rather have this than the
over-careful renderings we can get today.
given the performances and the low price
but why no In the South?