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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not the Definitive Boult Interpretations, 12 July 2009
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This review is from: Elgar: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 2, In the South, Serenade for Strings, Introduction & Allegro (Audio CD)
I can remember the reception that these recordings had when they were first issued in the late 1970's. It was said then, and it has been oft repeated, that these performances were the culmination of a life-time's association with these great works, the summing up of Sir Adrian's view of them. Whilst they are wonderfully broad and expansive, even luxurious accounts, I don't think that they can be viewed as Sir Adrian's best recorded performances, even though they were most certainly his last word. He was by then in his late eighties and physically frail. I think that he simply could not summon the drive and energy that can be heard in his earlier recordings (he recorded the second symphony five times). The Lyrita recordings, made just a few years earlier than these final EMI ones, are, in my view, superior in every way. Those who buy these EMI recordings will surely not be disappointed, but they should not, I feel, be seen as the definitive Boult interpretations.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 29 Jul 2009 19:57:18 BDT
Peter Street says:
These recordings were originally issued in 4-channel sound, and I found them disappointing at the time. But I'm not sure Boult's energies were completely burnt out then. He conducted a surprisingly swift ( and very risky) Elgar Symphony No 1 at a 1975 Prom, and a couple of years later an Elgar Symphony No 2 which in my view was as fiery as anything else he ever did, and should have been issued by BBC MM rather than the Sargent issue. I always remember a Halle Elgar 2 under Barbirolli in 1967 at the Free Trade Hall and a mid fifties Elgar 1 at the same venue. His stereo recordings of each were both marred to a degree by the rhythmic pedantry and over exposure of occasional minor detail which were the obverse of Barbirolli's much praised romantic enthusiasm on record. But as a Catholic and a self-made hereditary musician he was in Elgar's mould and understood his insecurities and volatility instinctively. On the other hand, Boult heard the first London performance of the First symphony rehearsed by Richter.......

In reply to an earlier post on 12 Nov 2010 17:17:03 GMT
Last edited by the author on 12 Nov 2010 17:19:01 GMT
Interesting comments! I agree with you about the 4-channel sound on the original LPs - I found it a bit 'plummy'. I like the late Boult Elgar 2 here ; the Elgar 1 (which was the 'Gramophone' orchestral disc of the year when it came out) a little less so - but the Proms performance you refer to, which was issued as a BBC Music Magazine 'free' CD, is incandescent. Have you heard the just-issued First Hand Records Nixa issue? That is perhaps the best of all ..... but it's hard to say! As for Barbirolli, I never heard him do these works live, but I imagine that would be wonderful. Repeated hearings of these works on CD with that interventionist approach work less well, in my view, than the 'straighter' Boult.
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Location: Fife, Scotland

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