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These two performances date from 1971 (Elgar) and 1976 (Brahms). Both were recorded in the Albert Hall at live concerts. Both are outstanding in their wisdom, breadth and 'rightness'. We are indebted to ICA for releasing them. The Elgar benefits from the additional, optional organ part (played by no less than George Thalben-Ball, who also played a Handel Concerto at the same concert). It is the usual Boult approach, characterising the Variations with great skill, pacing and judging them as a whole rather than just separate short pieces and working to a marvellous Finale. 'Nimrod', taken fairly slowly, is overwhelming in its climax. But for me it is the Brahms that makes this CD a must-buy. Every moment of it is special - the steady, powerful tread of the opening, the urgency of the ensuing Allegro, most beautiful playing throughout the Andante (the oboe and solo violin excellent here, as are the horns throughout the whole Symphony), a steady, relaxed Allegretto and then a glorious, very moving final movement with a wonderful sense of structure and some fiery climaxes. Boult always took the closing Piu Allegro section quite steadily, but here that simply adds weight and inevitability, and the shouted 'Hurrays!' from the audience at the end are no surprise. About both performances, especially the Brahms, there is a considerable sense of occasion. There is in addition a short and interesting extract (about Tempo) from an interview with Sir Adrian, which relates rather well to the two performances. But what performances they are! The music is presented honestly and eloquently, the recordings are good ; this is a special CD.
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