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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A towering live performance of the 1st symphony, 16 Nov 2010
By 
Scriabinmahler (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This is no doubt one of the greatest performances of this great symphony alongside Colin Davis and Sinopoli's powerful accounts. Solti's experience with Wagner's music adds another dimention to Elgar's music. First of all, grandeur and relentlessly driven forces in 1st and second movements are unmatched by few conductors. Finale is one of the most scintillating and fiery accounts I've ever come across. The sublime interlude just before the finale is most beautifully sustained and awe-inspiring. The rapt serenity and the aching nostalgia of the slow movement is most beautifully captured. The performance of 'In the South' is also outstanding.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Desert Island Disc, 29 April 2010
Of all my hundreds of discs and tapes, this one has provided me the deepest and most lasting pleasure ever since it was first issued on LP. The symphony has always been preferred by the public to the arguably greater Second Symphony. Here it is magnificently played, gripping from beginning to end, with one of the most uplifting performances of the final pages ever recorded. Solti's especial sensitivity to orchestral detail shows that Elgar was an outstanding orchestrator providing the conductor balances the orchestra correctly - in all too many recordings the Elgar sound sound comes across as heavy and thick.

Solti listened carefully to Elgar's own recording on the encouragement of the critic Edward Greenfield while preparing the work and he also shows the sort of nervous energy which Elgar himself reportedly had and this is essential if the first movement is not to sound stodgy and static. Under Solti, the opening of the first movement is tinged with regret beneath the apparent optimism - Barbirolli, for instance, makes this moment deeply sad. Both views are valid, though Elgar spoke of "a massive hope for the future" as characterizing this particular symphony.

Solti's feeling for the work is particularly apparent in the second movement. This movement moves seamlessly into a most heart-felt performance of the slow movement, which contains some magical, breathtaking soft passages. The finale ends exhilaratingly. This is a recording which never fails to make a lasting effect and it has never been out of the catalogue since its first issue in 1972.

Exhilarating is also the word for the bonus 'In the South' overture. Both Solti and Elgar loved Italy.The recording of both works is outstanding too. Both Elgar symphonies plus the overture are available as a Decca twofer - an even greater bargain, though the remastering on the present issue is slightly preferable.

Of other versions, Barbirolli is on the slow side and doesn't get nearly such good playing, though I wouldn't be without the performance he conducted just days before he died, once available on 'BBC Legends'. Boult is rather dull in comparison. Andrew Davis gives a fine performance in superb sound but is not as committed as Solti. Colin Davis lacks fantasy in the second movement and tends to be rather heavy elsewhere.

By the way, this is not a live recording, as one review suggests: it was made in a London studio during a period when there were constant power cuts. Maybe these helped add intensity to the performance.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Go for the cheapest release, 18 Feb 2013
By 
Charles Voogd (Underwaterland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Solti's interpretation of the Elgar symphonies has been recycled on and on and on and on. And the reason is that they're superb. He dusted off the score and gave them a drive never heard before. So we now have Japanese CD-prints for around 30 pounds, a 2CD set for around 5, and the latest release on Decca for 3. The CD with the handsome cover - the old LP! - is the same, sounds the same, will cost you more. So if you don't mind the art work, go for the most recent and cheapest version. It's a superbly priced CD with a superb interpretation and a London orchestra on top form.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A delight, 20 May 2011
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By one of life's little ironies I first heard this recording of the symphony in Germany, during my gap year, so (notwithstanding the fact that the conductor wasn't English) I've always associated both the music and this particular performance with "home thoughts from abroad". Solti consciously based his approach on Elgar's own, but in one or two places I miss the last degree of reserve, the "art that conceals art", that I hear in the composer's own recording. However, the sheer fire in the belly of this performance easily compensates and, though it isn't the last word on this music, I can't give it any less than five stars. Ditto for "In The South", for which Solti is pretty much the ideal interpreter.
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Elgar: Symphony No.1; In The South - "Alassio"
Elgar: Symphony No.1; In The South - "Alassio" by London Philharmonic Orchestra
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