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  • Elgar: Symphony No. 1 [Sakari Oramo, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra] [BIS: BIS1939]
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Elgar: Symphony No. 1 [Sakari Oramo, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra] [BIS: BIS1939] Hybrid SACD, SACD


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Elgar: Symphony No. 1 [Sakari Oramo, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra] [BIS: BIS1939] + Elgar: Symphony No. 2 [Sakari Oramo, Royal Stockholm Phlharmonic Orchestra] [BIS: BIS1879]
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Product details

  • Conductor: Sakari Oramo
  • Composer: Edward Elgar
  • Audio CD (28 July 2014)
  • Please Note: Requires SACD-compatible hardware
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Hybrid SACD, SACD
  • Label: Bis
  • ASIN: B00KGMTAKI
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 65,603 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Symphony No 1 in A flat major Op 55 - Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra
2. Cockaigne (In London Town) Overture Op 40 - Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra

Product Description

Product Description

Conducting this all-Elgar programme is Sakari Oramo, the Finnish conductor who has been all but adopted by English music-lovers and orchestras - for ten years he was music director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, and since 2013 he holds the post as chief conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

It was during the winter of 1900–01 that Elgar began to sketch what he hoped would turn into his first symphony. However, the sketches were quickly absorbed into several shorter pieces, one of which was the Cockaigne overture - an unashamedly populist portrait of ‘old London town'.

As for the First Symphony, seven years would pass before its première in Manchester and subsequent London performance.

Review

Only the most cockeyed jingoist could fail to enjoy the affection and mastery on display in this scrupulously accurate reading of Elgar's First Symphony. Sakari Oramo takes a quasi-masochistic pleasure from Elgar's nervously over-marked score and proves along the way that, as Stravinsky insisted, musicians don't need to interpret, they just have to play what's written. It's easier said than done. Some say Elgar was compensating or allowing for his own uncomfortable experience as an orchestral violinist of limited talent. Had he had the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic at his disposal, he need not have worried. Playing the symphony straight only accentuates the strangeness and restlessness of its argument, conveying an acute sense of Elgar in his own time, a poet of a vanishing but not departed age, even a purveyor of an English expressionism: the climax to the first movement yields nothing to the more depressing pages of Sibelius in terms of stark intensity and severe harmony. Is there biting irony rather than pomp and circumstance to the hurried little march in the Scherzo? Oramo finds scant relief in the long, yearning phrases of the Adagio and pushes through the kaleidoscopic transformations of the finale once Elgar had settled on a theme, he was mighty reluctant to let it go to reach an apotheosis of rare satisfaction. Ennobled Brits such as Andrew Davis and Mark Elder notwithstanding, Oramo and his Swedish players have given us the Elgar cycle for our time. **** --Sinfini Music, 9/9/14

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Stuart Sillitoe on 20 Aug. 2014
Format: Audio CD
It use to be said that English music does not travel abroad very well, I think that Sakari Oramo’s recent masterly recording of Elgar’s Second Symphony has disproved that theory once and for all! Turning our attention to Oramo’s recording of the First, in someways the more difficult work of the two, and for me he doesn’t manage to achieve the level of excellence found in his recording of the Second.
For me, my bench mark when it comes to the Elgar symphonies, is the recording Adrian Boult made with the London Philharmonic Orchestra in the late 1960’s and which was released on Lyrita, one which I have always treasured both on vinyl and CD. This treasured recording is the one that all subsequent recordings, including Handley, Solti, Davis and Hurst, have been compared with, and found wanting, and this new recording by Oramo is no different.
I find Oramo’s tempos a bit on the slow side, he is nearly four minutes slower than Boult over all, this puts him on a par with Handley, although I must say that Oramo does sound more driven than Handley’s recording, but both are quicker than Davis and the LSO. It is not that I prefer quicker tempos, the composers own recording clocks in at only 46:30, and I still prefer Boult’s more measured approach. One of the main problems for me is the way that Sakari Oramo dramatically switches tempo between themes within a movement. This is most prevalent in the second movement Allegro molto, here Oramo begins quite briskly but when the following theme enters he applies the breaks too much, it’s just too slow, and it just doesn’t work! Oramo is not the first conductor to do this, and I dare say he will not be the last.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By D. S. CROWE TOP 500 REVIEWER on 30 July 2014
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I had nothing but praise for the brisk and vibrant reading of Elgar's Second Symphony which preceded this release some months ago. While I have enjoyed this new release of the First in many respects, my enthusiasm is somewhat more tempered than it was for the Second.
The recording is excellent-at times almost too excellent!-and the playing is superb, though the orchestra is balanced differently from the earlier release and at times seems to lack a little weight.
Some pp sections are SO quiet as to be almost inaudible particularly in the Adagio, and when Elgar adopts a more chamber like scoring, Oramo really highlights this with the recording giving us a very close sound picture at these points.

However, this is not the cause of my reservations. Oramo takes a medium paced approach to the opening Nobilmente March but then whips up the tempo in a very exciting manner, with brilliant execution from his Stockholm Players and he makes this movement sound very modern indeed-a triumph.

Things do not go so well in the Second. The opening theme and March blaze away at a fast tempo, but when Elgar introduces the dancing picaresque second subject in the Major Key, Oramo slows down markedly-and for me this does not work. Worse still, when the second theme returns in the Full Orchestra-a glorious moment-Oramo makes as a sudden rallentando-quite extraordinary!- and instead of rushing ahead as Elgar intends, he slows the whole proceedings down markedly. I don't like it-end of!!

The Adagio is beautiful without becoming mawkish or lugubrious, with exquisite string tone, and when Elgar finally introduces THE phrase in the coda-you know the one I mean-it is so quiet I had to strain to hear it. Very effective if a touch too extreme I feel!
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
More superb Elgar from the wonderful Sakari Oramo - wonderful recording from BIS [even better than the second symphony]. If you want to hear what the composer wrote then this Elgar first is what you should have. It's up there
with the best of the rest - but with this recording quality and this Conductor frankly for any collection this is a must have.

Simply superb.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Technically superb, but with some agogic interpretative points that don't work for me, thus my recommendation is qualified. 12 Aug. 2014
By D. S. CROWE - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I had nothing but praise for the brisk and vibrant reading of Elgar's Second Symphony which preceded this release some months ago. While I have enjoyed this new release of the First in many respects, my enthusiasm is somewhat more tempered than it was for the Second.
The recording is excellent-at times almost too excellent!-and the playing is superb, though the orchestra is balanced differently from the earlier release and at times seems to lack a little weight.
Some pp sections are SO quiet as to be almost inaudible particularly in the Adagio, and when Elgar adopts a more chamber like scoring, Oramo really highlights this with the recording giving us a very close sound picture at these points.

However, this is not the cause of my reservations. Oramo takes a medium paced approach to the opening Nobilmente March but then whips up the tempo in a very exciting manner, with brilliant execution from his Stockholm Players and he makes this movement sound very modern indeed-a triumph.

Things do not go so well in the Second. The opening theme and March blaze away at a fast tempo, but when Elgar introduces the dancing picaresque second subject in the Major Key, Oramo slows down markedly-and for me this does not work. Worse still, when the second theme returns in the Full Orchestra-a glorious moment-Oramo makes as a sudden rallentando-quite extraordinary!- and instead of rushing ahead as Elgar intends, he slows the whole proceedings down markedly. I don't like it-end of!!

The Adagio is beautiful without becoming mawkish or lugubrious, with exquisite string tone, and when Elgar finally introduces THE phrase in the coda-you know the one I mean-it is so quiet I had to strain to hear it. Very effective if a touch too extreme I feel!

The Finale is generally good but Oramo glosses over certain key moments-and the coda does not blaze with the grand sonority that others conjure up, though it is impressive.
So overall, enjoyable enough but with some interpretative points that don't work for me.

The Cockaigne filler is lively, cheery and very well played though the brass is restrained compared to other readings and the climax lacks a little weight.
Oramo makes no allowance for Elgar's programme-he has no build up to encountering the mighty brass of the military band but on both occasions blasts through it at breakneck speed-it is more like a cavalry charge than a mounted band! The organ in the finale IS audible-but lacks bass pedal reverberation hence my comment earlier about lack of weight!

My favourite First Symphony recording remains the late Sir Colin Davis with Dresden Staatskapelle, but any number of recordings by Boult, the famous Barbirolli, the brilliant Solti, The Elder and the Sinopoli all make better alternatives, as does a most underrated Mackerras with the LSO on Argo, which has a superb Cockaigne also as its filler.

Others may feel that the, to me, contentious and misjudged interpretative points work better than I do, and technically it is superb and in SACD too, so recommended with raised eyebrows. 4 Stars. Stewart Crowe
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
First Rate Elgar 15 Sept. 2014
By Martin B. Haub - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I absolutely loved the recording of the 2nd symphony this team gave us, and I am no less thrilled with this new reading of the 1st. The scrupulous attention paid to Elgar's tempi and dynamics is breathtaking. The orchestral playing is sensational - what a brass section. The recorded sound is first-rate. I've been wallowing in the glorious SACD sound for a week - crank the volume up on a good multichannel system and you'll be blown away - no distortion. All the inner voices are heard, and the percussion makes a real impact. This recording can easily stand beside the treasured recordings of Boult, Barbirolli, Solti, Handley, and virtually all others. It's not true that only English orchestras and conductors can do Elgar properly, and this fine new recording proves it beyond question. The Cockaigne is first rate, too. I hope that BIS will get the conductor and orchestra back in the studio and give us the 3rd Symphony and most desired, Falstaff. Great job, BIS!
It just fails to reach the heights achieved by their earlier Elgar recording. 20 Aug. 2014
By Stuart Sillitoe - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
It use to be said that English music does not travel abroad very well, I think that Sakari Oramo’s recent masterly recording of Elgar’s Second Symphony has disproved that theory once and for all! Turning our attention to Oramo’s recording of the First, in someways the more difficult work of the two, and for me he doesn’t manage to achieve the level of excellence found in his recording of the Second.
For me, my bench mark when it comes to the Elgar symphonies, is the recording Adrian Boult made with the London Philharmonic Orchestra in the late 1960’s and which was released on Lyrita, one which I have always treasured both on vinyl and CD. This treasured recording is the one that all subsequent recordings, including Handley, Solti, Davis and Hurst, have been compared with, and found wanting, and this new recording by Oramo is no different.
I find Oramo’s tempos a bit on the slow side, he is nearly four minutes slower than Boult over all, this puts him on a par with Handley, although I must say that Oramo does sound more driven than Handley’s recording, but both are quicker than Davis and the LSO. It is not that I prefer quicker tempos, the composers own recording clocks in at only 46:30, and I still prefer Boult’s more measured approach. One of the main problems for me is the way that Sakari Oramo dramatically switches tempo between themes within a movement. This is most prevalent in the second movement Allegro molto, here Oramo begins quite briskly but when the following theme enters he applies the breaks too much, it’s just too slow, and it just doesn’t work! Oramo is not the first conductor to do this, and I dare say he will not be the last. There are other occasions where he under emphasises certain passages, you sit there waiting for something to happen, but the moment has gone before you realise it.
The playing of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, as in their recording of the Second, is excellent, the strings and the harp especially, they play with real belief in the music, I just feel that the interpretation is a bit lacking. The hybrid SACD sound is beautifully crisp and well balanced, allowing you to hear every nuance of the orchestral playing, it is certainly the best recorded version I have heard, it just fails to reach the heights achieved by their earlier Elgar recording.
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