These two items are taken from the last recorded concert of Barbirolli. A few days later, and he was dead; he was very ill even at the rehearsals for this concert (recorded at the King's Lynn Festival in 1970). Elgar was close to Sir John's heart from his earliest days, and both the Symphony and the Introduction and Allegro were recorded by him a number of times, and performed in concert many times more.
Also he had had a very long and fruitful (legendary?) relationship with the Halle orchestra. So here we have a team of musicians, under a beloved conductor, all with this music in their bones. As you would expect, there is a warmth here and a love, rarely heard. The Introduction and Allegro is quite different from any of his other recordings of this piece; to me there is a palpable sense of sadness-not at all what you hear in the earlier versions. And the Symphony-well, in places I felt tears of sadness: probably 'Glorious John' knew he hadn't much time left and this performance is like a bittersweet farewell.
These recordings have previously been available on unofficial discs; there is no comparison-the BBC has provided here an excellent stereo recording, well remastered.
A great tribute to England's greatest conductor.