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on 23 April 2011
As well as being of enormous historical interest and value, Elgar's electrical recordings of his own music remain amongst the very finest ever made. The technical quality of this reissue is quite amazing and, apart from the mono sound, the listener has to make very few allowances for it. The various orchestras perform to a high standard under Elgar's baton and the, then usual, use of portamento is never distracting and adds greatly to the effectiveness of these performances. Elgar's tempi are much faster than we are used to today but, for example, his readings of the symphonies and Enigma Variations have a rightness about them that is totally convincing.

Almost all of the composers major orchestral works are here together with extracts from Gerontius and The Music Makers recorded 'live' at the Albert Hall and during the Three Choirs Festival in Hereford. Also included are the fascinating piano improvisations Elgar made in 1929 and which, of course, were never intended for commercial release. More than mere doodling, these provide a wonderful and unique insight into his compositional technique.

We hear Elgar's speaking voice during a rehearsal extract from the second symphony and introducing Land of Hope and Glory at the opening of the Abbey Road studios. The final disc ends with some orchestral extracts from Caractacus supervised by Elgar by 'phone from his sick bed a month before his death and both 'Mina' - a charming late piece descriptive of his beloved cairn terrrier and the Coronation March conducted by Landon Ronald - the man who persuaded Elgar to record for the first time in 1914.

This is a wonderful set which, as well as including such well-known and, justly often reissued, recordings such as the Violin Concerto with Menuhin and Cello Concerto with Beatrice Harrison, contains many very fine performances which have been out of the catalogue for far too long.

The notes on the recordings by Jerrold Northrop Moore are excellent but I would have preferred them to be more extensive and could have well done without the very interesting, but inessential, essays by Anthony Griffith and Andrew Walter on 78rpm recording techniques and digital remastering procedures.

One of the few absolutely essential purchases for all lovers of English music, this set can be recommended without reservation.
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on 11 October 2014
Unique performances that have more value than simply being those of the composer himself.

They give an insight into the performance practice of the day that is instructive, and unlike Historically Informed Performance practice performances of Baroque music, they present us with an accurate idea of what is not set down in the printed music, but what, for all that, was expected in performances of the music. HIP is a wonderful development in music that is older than the period covered by recordings, but here we have an insight that no amount of scholarship could bring.

I have known some of these recordings since being a youngster, playing them from the original shellac discs. I am delighted by the quality that the transfers bring. There are very few transfers that fall below the best possible. These few examples generally concern only music of less significance, where a re-recording was never considered for a commercial release, and the only surviving discs are the composer's own worn test pressings.

Simply having the opportunity to listen to these extremely rare recordings - un-issued at the time - is fully worthwhile in my view, though the main interest here does reside in the big recording projects such as the Two Symphonies, The Concert Overtures, The Enigma Variations, the Violin Concerto and the Cello Concerto, and so on.

Of course the oldest recordings here, such as the Enigma Variations [from 1926] come from the very earliest of electrical recording sessions, and the then cutting edge electrical recording technology is not so fine as would be managed only a year or two later, ... and particularly when AD Blumlein's recording system was adopt at EMI in 1932. One beneficiary of this second generation of electrical recording technique is the in every way splendid performance of the Violin Concerto, though the Two Symphonies really are treated to great musical performances in lucid and well balanced recordings that defy their age in these exquisitely and sympathetically made transfers.

In my view, these discs should be in the collection of everyone who knows and loves the music of Edward Elgar. And for the price, it is something not to miss.
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on 9 August 2012
This set contains all the recordings that comprised the two LP sets in the vinyl era. A lot of this material sounds brighter on CD and from that point of view, is worth having, even if you already have the LPs. However, EMI could have included MUCH more documentation than appears here. There was a massive quantity of quality documentation with the two LP sets and the three CD sets that comprised the Elgar editions some twenty years ago. This new edition is very cheap, but that does not excuse the rather sketchy booklet, to put it mildly. There is room in the box for a much more informative insert, containing articles and notes that must surely already exist in EMI's archives. Therefore, to omit it, portrays a 'cheapness' that is unbecoming of a notable record company. I shall not be parting with my LPs!
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on 28 December 2012
Having visited the Elgar Birthplace Museum and listening to the original recordings I was tempted to buy these recordings of Elgar conducting. I was amazed at the quality of the transfers and found it hard to believe the clarity of the performances. Considering the technology available at the time they were recorded I think the transfers using modern technology brings the performances to life. Anyone who admires Elgar's work would not be disappointed. I prefer some of these recordings to the more modern ones. I would thoroughly recommend this set of CDs.
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on 22 June 2014
If these are the same transfers which EMI used for their three volume 'The Elgar Edition' back in the 1990's,then I would prefer the EMI LP's,all of which avoid the dither which digital processing introduces. Too much of this robs the quieter moments of naturalness.

As a great Elgar enthusiast I have read and studied a lot about him. I also have several of these recordings on original 78's,including both recordings of the 'Enigma' variations,acoustic (not on this set) and the 1926 Queens Hall electrical.. There is something about a well reproduced 78 which no digital transfer can match. Maybe modern engineers feel that listeners prefer defects to be removed,and in doing so some of the music?

For real enjoyment of these unique recordings,the LP editions on EMI and WRC are much to be preferred. The CD's are second choice.
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on 3 August 2014
An incredible bargain! I've compared some of the recordings here with the LP pressings I still have and find some sounding as good as the vinyls but others sounding brighter with more detail. I disagree with the other reviewers about the lack of info as most people who buy this set will already be familiar with the music. There is slightly more technical detail than on the LPs and two relatively minor recordings which I don't think have appeared before.
The only item I miss is the libretto of 'Gerontius' but that is readily available from the Elgar Society website. A cracking set!
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on 3 June 2013
Even includes the voice of the great man on some performances (intro, so doesn't spoil anything.

Tempos have changed over the years and it is good to hear the original less frenetic pace of his major works as conducted by him (particularly Pomp and Circumstance No 1 - the favourite of Prommers)
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on 5 March 2015
This is a set for Elgar enthusiasts interested in how the composer interpreted his own music. The sound quality is such that I doubt even the most die-hard fan would use these discs as replacements for equivalent 'modern' versions. While potential purchasers should be aware of this, I love 'em anyway.
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on 8 November 2015
The Masters' versions.
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on 2 September 2011
Wonderful to listen to all of his works and to be conscious that he himself is conducting. Pardon the pun, but BLISS.
Douglas
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