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Elgar: Symphony No. 2 (LSO Davis) Live
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Elgar's first symphony was an overnight sensation, establishing him as one of the leading composers of his time. His darker, more enigmatic, second symphony has always proved more elusive. Sir Colin Davis penetrates to the heart of the composer's emotions in a truly revelatory recording.
'..Further evidence of Sir Colin Davis's intense rapport with Elgar's music ... a very moving performance, magnificently played.' -- Sunday Telegraph
'The headiness of Davis's approach is matched by the lushness of the LSO's playing and a sumptuous recording.' ***** -- The Guardian
BEST CLASSICAL RECORDINGS OF 2002 -- Sunday Times
'Remarkable, above all for its depth of feeling.'
-- Sunday Times
'The first symphony sounds terrific and Davis's ripe, expansive reading is deeply saitisfying. The second symphony is if anything even better.' ***** -- Mail on Sunday
'a very moving performance, magnificently played' -- Sunday Telegraph, May 12, 2002
Classical CDs of the Year -- The Guardian, December 6, 2002
Classical Records of the Year -- Sunday Times, December 8, 2002
The first symphony sounds terrific and Daviss ripe, expansive reading is deeply saitisfying.The second symphony is if anything even better. -- Mail on Sunday, April 7, 2002
Top Customer Reviews
This performance is excellent in every sense. Certainly a difficult piece to pull off, but Sir Colin and the LSO have this music in their blood and it really shows. The complex structure just flows so beautifully, each section flowing into another perfectly. Sir Colin is so well-judged with his rubato and dynamic precision here. Many of the tempi he chooses are very slow indeed, but this does the music good I think. I'm one of the people who prefer a faster Elgar 1, and a slower Elgar 2. These slow tempi really allow the clarity of texture and perfect balance and control of the many orchestral layers to shine. This score has so much in it, therefore it is a challenge for any conductor to allow all the sections to come through in perfect balance, but Sir Colin definitely achieves this. The layers within the strings are particularly outstanding here, I even heard viola pizz parts I never knew existed! This perfection really does allow heavenly sounds in passages such as the inner sections of the first movement, build-ups to the climaxes in the second movement or the subtlely glorious ending of the piece. Such thrill is achieved in the scherzo as well, with the lyrical sections played with a gorgeous grandeur. Also, I don't think I have heard the last few bars done better than I have here. The final string sigh is given so much space, and the gradual diminuendo is extremely moving.Read more ›
The answer, of course, is both. This is an emotionally complicated symphony that makes great demands on its interpreters. Sir Colin Davis and the LSO meet almost all of these demands in a performance that benefits greatly from being recorded 'live'. The audience at the premiere of the work in 1911 'sat there like a lot of stuffed pigs', according to Elgar; but it is unlikely that the audience at the Barbican in October 2001 were anything like as reticent (though applause is judiciously omitted after the symphony's sunset coda).
This is a hugely spirited performance, well-played and well-recorded though not always ideally clear on detail. Davis's tempi are sensibly chosen, capturing well the flexibility of a score that is energetic at one moment and reflective the next. He is particularly good, too, at ending movements. The close of the slow movement (a great funeral march) sounds more bleak than it often does, perhaps looking forward to the Elgar/Payne of the Third Symphony. The end of the third movement, after the huge percussion outburst (judged to perfection here) is taken much more slowly than usual, and is made to anticipate the quiet music at the very end of the symphony.Read more ›
The leaflet includes the background and brief musical details of the work by Stephen Johnson and a short biographical portrait of the composer by Andrew Stewart. Information is also provided on the orchestra and the conductor, and a puff on the philosophy of LSO Live which ‘captures exceptional performances from the finest musicians using the latest high-density recording technology. The result? Sensational sound quality and definitive interpretations combined with the energy and emotion that you can only experience live in the concert hall. LSO Live lets everyone, everywhere, feel the excitement in the world’s greatest music.’
The sound quality of the rather arid Barbican space does live up to this claim, to the extent that Davis’s vocalisation is intrusive and gets worse each time that this recording, in particular, is played. No only is Davis disturbing but I found that my concentration was broken as his utterances approached.
The conductor’s tempi throughout are rather very flexible, to put it mildly which prevents the unified nature of this long [here 57’.38”] and complex work being revealed. In the first movement, the ‘malign influence wandering thro’ the summer night in the garden’ as the composer described the score of the central section is wonderfully sinister, as played by the strings and percussion.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It's Elgar. Nothing more to be said, except: good version, as you'd expect from Colin Davis & The LSO.Published 22 months ago by Molly Bloom
Having heard this work I was desperate to get hold of it. An absoutely stunning piece of music. Great price too.Published on 8 Aug. 2012 by Jean Kelly
No one doubts Colin Davis' commitment to the music here. The faint vocal noises from Davis which accompany the recording are evidence of that. Read morePublished on 8 Feb. 2012 by Erudite
Not one of Elgar's best. boring & really not a great symphony. would not recommend this unless you are a real Elgar fan and want to add to your Elgar collection otherwise avoidPublished on 11 Feb. 2011 by RosiC
Rich, warm playing from the LSO does full justice to this (relatively) unloved symphony. The recording is tactile, detailed and has a wonderfully extended soundstage - most... Read morePublished on 18 Aug. 2008 by SACD audiophile