Top positive review
7 people found this helpful
A painful, but accepting farewell. What a legacy.
on 21 April 2013
Following the sad news of Sir Colin's death this week, I decided to listen to this recording as a way of paying homage. This symphony definitely presents to me a painful, but accepting farewell at the end, and I must admit that this performance brought me to tears.
This performance is excellent in every sense. Certainly a difficult piece to pull off, but Sir Colin and the LSO have this music in their blood and it really shows. The complex structure just flows so beautifully, each section flowing into another perfectly. Sir Colin is so well-judged with his rubato and dynamic precision here. Many of the tempi he chooses are very slow indeed, but this does the music good I think. I'm one of the people who prefer a faster Elgar 1, and a slower Elgar 2. These slow tempi really allow the clarity of texture and perfect balance and control of the many orchestral layers to shine. This score has so much in it, therefore it is a challenge for any conductor to allow all the sections to come through in perfect balance, but Sir Colin definitely achieves this. The layers within the strings are particularly outstanding here, I even heard viola pizz parts I never knew existed! This perfection really does allow heavenly sounds in passages such as the inner sections of the first movement, build-ups to the climaxes in the second movement or the subtlely glorious ending of the piece. Such thrill is achieved in the scherzo as well, with the lyrical sections played with a gorgeous grandeur. Also, I don't think I have heard the last few bars done better than I have here. The final string sigh is given so much space, and the gradual diminuendo is extremely moving.
It would be true to say that at the turn of the century, LSO Live, a relatively new label, had not quite mastered the acoustics of the Barbican, and the quality is a tiny bit dry. However, this does not affect the beauty of the performance, and can only maximize the clarity of the texture being brought out by Davis. The LSO give their all, with so much passion, especially in the strings.
A gorgeous recording, and a very moving inclusion of a legendary legacy Sir Colin has left us. RIP.