5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
The highlight of Davis' LSO Elgar Cycle,
This review is from: Elgar/Payne - Symphony No 3 (LSO Davis) (Audio CD)
Many of the people looking at this item will know the story behind the Elgar "third" symphony; How Elgar said on his deathbed that his sketches for his third symphony should not be tinkered with. Well, the request was kept until the 1990's when the composer Anthony Payne was commissioned to gather the sketches and make them into a whole symphony. Was this really the right thing? Well, the outcome was most definitely a great piece, but probably nothing like Elgar would have intended. There are few places where one would listen and think that it was Elgar, many of the orchestration and harmonic tecniques Payne uses sound nothing like Elgar at all. As a conductor said to Payne on first seeing the score "Since when did Elgar finish a piece with a gong stroke?" But don't get me wrong, this is a really great piece of music.
Enough about the actual piece, lets move onto the performance.
Sir Colin Davis has a great insight of the piece, he uses well judged tempi and handles dynamics to perfection, leading to the most exciting climaxes and beautiful quiet sections. The playing of the LSO is impeccable, and the orchestra makes a brilliant sound together, with extra glorious brass.
The performance is consistently good throughout each of the four movements, but I am especially impressed by the handling of the two inner movements. The magic and mystery in the scherzo is really brought out and the adagio is played so passionately.
Many people critisize the sound quality of the LSO Live cd's but I am actually rather fond of it. It is rather dry sounding, but the balance is fantastic.
I would say that on hearing all of Davis's Elgar on the LSO Live label, that this is the highlight. But then again, this isn't the best set of Elgar orchestral music available... for the symphonies try Georg Solti (just 1 + 2) and for the Enigma Variations try George Hurst on naxos. But for "Elgar" 3rd, this is the one to get, it beats the reccommended naxos recording by Paul Daniel for me.