Please note: my remarks are only on this recording of Symphony No 2.
Terms like 'burnished', 'noble', 'glorious', 'majestic', 'dignified' most easily come to mind listening to Boult's magisterial final recording (1975/76) of this magnificent twentieth century symphony.
The playing of the LPO allows Sir Adrian's vision to be expressed to perfection - though 'playing' somehow seems altogether the wrong word in this context! The recorded sound is among the finest of EMI's best - with great clarity and real depth.
There are however subtle aspects of this emotionally multifaceted masterpiece that seem to belong to a world Boult did not inhabit. Elgar said that he had `showed himself' in this symphony. There are passages where Elgar allows us to feel the depths of personal despair, dark self-doubt, desperately unfulfilled longings - indeed 'rarely, rarely' did Elgar seem to have the joy of the of 'spirit of delight'!
Perhaps Sir Adrian's view is of a symphony of national, rather than personal, biography. For this approach no one surpasses Boult in this culmination of his life-long advocacy of the work.
But Elgar's concept and achievement are far greater than a nationalistic epitaph. The symphony inhabits the fraught and enigmatic world of the inner-self fully as much as those of Mahler, Bruckner and Tchaikovsky's 4th, 5th and 6th - not to mention the music of Berg and Schoenberg. To take us into that elusive inner world we need to follow (among others) Sir Colin Davis (LSO, 2001), Sir Malcolm Sargent (BBC Music BBC MM280) and, above all, Sir John Barbirolli (1965).
PS Odd how the symphonies of Sir Edward will forever be bound to a round (turn)table of musical knights - Sir Adrian, Sir John, Sir Malcolm, Sir Colin, Sir Andrew, Sir Georg, Sir Yehudi (later Lord) Menuhin - we are deeply indebted to them all.