12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 26 February 2009
I just finished listening to this disc and had to write a review. I have owned it for a few years - already loved it. On hearing it again, after a good few months, I feel astounded at the amazing imagination of Elgar's composition and orchestration - inspired and inspiring! A wonderful performance and recording - a billion pounds worth of music for next-to-nothing. The symphony is so full of ever-changing emotions, never far from a vast, enthralling climax or an outburst of uninhibited, exuberant joy. It evokes an England gone forever, it seems. This is one of my favourite CDs without a doubt. I strongly recommend all of Naxos' Elgar Cds.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Even though this is a very cheap disc to buy, the quality is absolutely top rank. Sir Edward Downes is a fine interpreter of Elgar and he is working with an orchestra that know and admire him, recording in a venue where he is completely at home. The difficulty I have often felt with the opening of the first movement of this symphony is to get the rushing "Spirit of Delight" theme sufficiently weighty but NOT weighed down. Energy and richness have to go hand in hand and this is a difficult thing to bring off. Barbirolli and Boult both moved towards the heavy side of interpretation in their last recordings, and it is generally assumed that their earlier interpretations are their better interpretations. The trouble is that the sound quality is mono and often not very alluring.
But what we have here on this Naxos disc is something that is very like Boult is his prime: energetic AND weighty, with the gentler moments of all the movement conducted with an "inner" contemplative quality that eschews the so-called "public mourning/public celebration" approach. The recording quality is very natural and unforced, with very vivid percussion. An all together satisfying performance, though I have a slight quibble with the balance of the oboe and cor anglais in the mourning thredony of the second movement, which seems to my ears to be too distant and not as well played as on some other recordings. That said this is an excellent disc and should belong in the collection of anyone who values Elgar's music.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 12 January 2012
This disc represents yet another of many fine recordings by budget disc label Naxos, although this one does reach a particularly high mark: - I would say almost faultless, and captures all the changing emotions of this Elgar symphony. Music of harmonic complexity and richness, perhaps Elgar at his best. glorious
This is a deeply felt and yet unsentimental view of this great work. Elgar wrote variations which came to be known as an enigma, yet here in this second symphony there are more enigmas. It will not do just to think of this as the work of an Edwardian/Victorian gentleman. What are the meanings attached to this 'passionate pilgrimage of a soul'? Where do Venice and Tintagel fit in? What is the reference to Shelley's 'Song' from the Last Love Poems? It is good to let this powerful, passionate music speak for itself - the tempestuous first movement, the 'liebestod' of the second movement with its most profound of funeral marches and its debt to Wagnerian harmony, the percussion smashing in the brain of the third movement, and the tidal energy surging and flowing in the final movement before ebbing away. The BBC Philharmonic Orchestra plays with total commitment and absorption under the direction of their previous Principal Conductor, Sir Edward Downes. A tiny criticism of the recording could be the need to hear a little more of the woodwind at times. However this work is still altogether a visit of delight. Crank up the volume.
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 28 July 2009
A brilliant performance from conductor Downes who committed suicide last week. The power, passion and emotion flow through this early digital recording that is available for a bargain price. If you like Elgar you'll love this.