MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around

and more.. and still writing ...


Search MusicWeb Here


Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer

International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider


paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas
All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Salon Treasures from the Max Jaffa Library



Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Discs for review may be sent to:
Jonathan Woolf
76 Lushes Road
Essex IG10 3QB
United Kingdom


REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

Support us financially by purchasing this from

Edward ELGAR (1857-1934)
Symphony No. 1 in A flat, Op. 55 [48:53]
Cockaigne Overture, Op. 40 [14:26]
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/Vasily Petrenko
rec. 2009, Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool, UK
ONYX 4145 [63:19]

When I saw Vasily Petrenko conduct Elgar’s Second Symphony live in 2011, and again when this CD was released, a few critics eagerly examined the question of whether his interpretations were “English” enough. There was a curious desire in some newspapers to decide if Petrenko’s readings were too Russian, or if perhaps that Russianness was a good thing.

Listening to this CD, I don’t hear anything Russian about it at all. This is idiomatic, English Elgar, which hits the right marks. Certainly you won’t mistake it for Rachmaninov. At the same time, there are parts of the disc where the playing feels a bit too tame and “safe”.

This is most of all the case in the Cockaigne Overture, where even from about 0:30 the attacks and climaxes don’t have the impact I would like. The brass aren’t nearly as rambunctious as on Sakari Oramo’s spectacular recent Bis recording, let alone the likes of Boult or Barbirolli. The overture’s finale, though nicely augmented with organ, just isn’t as impressively grand as it could be. Perhaps we can blame the inflexible tempos which render the faster passages slightly unexciting and slower ones slightly unfeeling.

The Symphony is better. The introduction feels tentative, mysterious and haunted, which is an original conception. As a whole the Symphony is played very quickly: in each of the last three movements, Petrenko is even faster than Georg Solti was for Decca in the 1970s. The Liverpool Philharmonic’s playing is as dazzling as you’d expect, particularly the woodwind soloists, and the scherzo is a thriller. I find the finale pretty satisfying, too.

If there is a weakness to this performance, it’s the Adagio, which is rather hasty and, in the last few minutes, not nearly as emotionally affecting as my favoirite readings. I’m thinking especially of Barbirolli and Tate, both on EMI. Compared to them, this performance of those final moments feels a bit rote.

Sound quality is good in some respects but not others. The bass is especially good; bass drum and organ register magnificently but the feeling of the concert-hall space is weird. Certain instrumental sections sound eccentrically separated, and although the woodwinds are captured very well; as for the brass it is sometimes as if they are in small alcoves hidden away at the back.

In conclusion, this is a perfectly good recording of the Symphony No. 1, and a mediocre recording of the Cockaigne Overture. If you want to hear the best new performances of this music, try Oramo on BIS, or maybe Elder on Hallé. I’m a huge admirer of Vasily Petrenko’s conducting, and have loved the results of his collaboration with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic. That said, even the best athletes don’t win gold medals in every race.

Brian Reinhart

Previous reviews: Michael Cookson and Ralph Moore



Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all Bridge reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

Eloquence recordings
All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Recordings of the Month

July 2022

John Luther Adams Houses of the Wind
John Luther Adams
Houses of the Wind

Horneman Alladin
Horneman Alladin

Stojowski piano concertos
Piano Concertos 1 & 2

Vaughan Williams on Brass

Yi Lin Jiang - Dualis I

June 2022

Beethoven Sonatas 29, 32

Orchestral Works

String Quartets Vol 1