One of the most grown-up review sites around

50,000 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Senior Editor: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider


A most rewarding CD
Renate Eggebrecht violin

Leticia Gómez-Tagle
Chopin, Liszt, Scarlatti

Acte Prealable returns
with New Releases

Anderson Choral music

colourful and intriguing

Pekarsky Percussion Ensemble

one of Berlioz greatest works

Rebecca Clarke Frank Bridge
High-octane performances

An attractive Debussy package

immaculate Baiba Skride

eloquent Cello Concerto

tension-filled work

well crafted and intense

another entertaining volume

reeking of cordite

Pappano with a strong cast

imaginatively constructed quartets

the air from another planet

vibrantly sung

NOT a budget performance

very attractive and interesting

finesse and stylistic assurance

Support us financially by purchasing this from

Sir Edward ELGAR (1857–1934)
Symphony No. 2 in E flat major, Op. 63 (1903-04, 1909-11) [54:56]
Serenade for Strings in E minor, Op. 20 (1892) [11:31]
BBC Symphony Orchestra/Edward Gardner
rec. 2017, Watford Colosseum, United Kingdom

Rather like Edward Gardner’s recording of Elgar’s First Symphony, this is a swift, driven reading, especially compared with Elder’s recording made with the Hallé in 2003; every movement is faster and overall the symphony is shorter by over four minutes but doesn’t sound rushed; it is actually very similar to Handley’s recording, while Boult and the LPO in 1956 are even faster.

Gardner’s recording of the First was very favourably reviewed by three MWI colleagues last year, but some reservations were expressed, as was an acknowledgement of the continued superiority of classic recordings from such as Barbirolli. Indeed, this new Second is one of those recordings where everything sounds right and nothing is exceptionable, yet nor is it exceptional, leaving me with a nagging feeling that I would like to encounter just a little more personality and risk-taking. For that reason, I played Handley and Elder’s versions and found slightly more indulgence in rubato and a greater sense of release in the music-making – an all-round sense of Elgarian exuberance, if you will. I would like more of the swing I hear in Boult’s otherwise quite fast, cool readings and to hear the horns whoop with more conviction than Gardner allows. This impression of restraint is perhaps reinforced by what I hear as a rather low recording level; compared with Elder and Handley, the sounds is rather flattened out and I kept increasing the volume. The Larghetto does not quite match Handley’s level of yearning intensity but the violent climax of the Rondo (a musical depiction of the Tennyson’s lines from “Maud” conveying madness, where "...the hoofs of the horses beat, beat into my scalp and brain...") is impressive. The final movement here is the best of all; Gardner captures the requisite ebb and flow of the music and his gradation of dynamics is especially notable. His sensitive conducting conveys all the passion and momentum of Elgar’s mercurial inspiration; I would love to have heard Furtwängler conduct this music, as instead of a steady Brucknerian pulse it demands a constant and instinctive, almost improvisational, flexibility. Gardner creates a lovely sense of calm and reposeful dignity in the conclusion of the finale, ensuring that the harps are audible and ending in a golden glow of Wagnerian splendour.

The Serenade makes a delightful postlude, light, delicate and really uplifting, the strings of the BBC Symphony Orchestra play elegantly; indeed, the orchestra is superb throughout, especially its horns and timpani.
Ralph Moore

We are currently offering in excess of 50,400 reviews

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

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
Senior Editor
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger