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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 26 July 2017
I do indeed like these recordings and rejoice that a non-British conductor gave this music such fervent advocacy, but I do not for one minute buy the case propounded by one or two previous reviews that previously recordings and performances of Elgar's music had been handicapped by too much English reserve and a reliance upon restrained nobility. If the drive and passion of the symphonies had not been so fervently embraced by conductors such as Boult, Handley, Elder and Colin Davis, I would never have responded so profoundly to the music and to suggest otherwise smacks to me of an agenda in reaction to undoubted instances of chauvinism among British critics in the past. However, I cannot conceive why only Sinopoli's recording should have been able to awaken an appreciation of Elgar's music where the others failed, even if I can understand why Sinopoli's more extreme and overt application of broad tempi remains rather different from the traditional British approach.

Having got that off my chest, let me turn to the recordings themselves. They are inordinately slow and measured: the First takes a full thirteen minutes longer than Boult's 1949 recording and ten and six minutes longer than Handley and Elder (my favourite) respectively. The Second is similarly ten minutes longer than Boult and six minutes longer than bot Elder and Davis in his superb, live Dresden recording (my preferred version). The biggest differences are in the slow movements; the question is, does Sinopoli court Bernstein-style stasis by indulging in such languorous tempi? I don't think so; his phrasing is free and dynamic and the playing of the Philharmonia absolutely lovely. There are times when the sonoroties are decidedly Germanic, close to Brahms, Wagner and Strauss - but that's no bar to proper realisation of the music of a composer who was profoundly influenced by all three. The Adagio of the First has all the yearning tenderness one could wish and both the opening and closing movements are definitely appropriately "grandioso". The key instruction for the first movement of the Second is "nobilmente"; it is quite deliberate but still massive, with plenty of swing; the Larghetto is similarly all-embracing, the Rondo measured but never dragging;the finale most definitely "maestoso" and rumbustious, oozing Empire confidence.

The bonuses of two Marches and a personal favourite, "Alassio", with its whooping Straussian horns, are splendidly played. It is such a showpiece for an orchestra in its prime and the sunniest thing Elgar ever wrote; Sinopoli brings out all its Italianate exuberance, contrasting marvellously with the imperial pomp.

If you prefer the clear-eyed, no nonsense approach of Boult, then you might want to avoid these overtly emotional performances but I enjoy both. A word of caution: if you listen on headphones or on especially sensitive, high-range equipment, you will become aware of a habit Sinopoli shared with Colin Davis and Barbirolli, of grunting, groaning and crooning along tunelessly with the music; it can become irritating. The digital sound is first rate.
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on 14 August 2016
It was useful to have both Elgar symphonies on this double cd and I have no criticisms of the recording quality or the orchestral interpretation. The sense of grandeur and elegance come though in both works. The 'In the South' overture and 'Pomp and Circumstance' marches 1 and 4 are useful bonus tracks.
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on 22 November 2004
Elgar's two symphonies are good example of interpretations of music being stuck thanks to the strange British conservatism. If you listen to 10 recordings of these symphonies by 10 British conductors, they all sound more or less same in terms of interpretation: controlled, noble, beautiful Elgarian rubato and so on.
But in my opinion Elgar's Symphony 1 and 2 require as much emotional capacity and dynamic range as Mahler symphonies. There is nothing aristocratic about these works, they are about violent struggle between evil and good, and man's deepest longing for the world beyond this world.
Most of the British conductors choose to ignore the fact that Elgar's music is highly influenced by Wagner's, not only by his musical language and orchestration but by his sense of creating intense and enormous drama.
I recommend non British conductors for those who want something more than nobility and control. Is's an enigma that Sinopolli's version is not mentioned even by Penguin Guide. He presents both symphonies in much larger scale in terms of tempo, dynamic ranges and emotional charge without losing coherance of the whole. And the very spacious slow movements, so beautiful and serene! He is also one of the few conductors who slow down tempo to introduce the beautiful phrase before the finale of first symphony, the most beautiful music Elgar ever wrote.
To those who can not stand Sinopoli's flexible tempi, I'll recommend very sucessful Slatkin's recording or highly individual Barenboim version. It's a great shame that no great Russian conductors hadn't record Elgar symphonies.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 30 August 2014
As well as the symphonies, this generous 2-disc package includes In the South, and Pomp and Circumstance Nos. 1 & 4, all played beautifully by the Philharmonia and recorded in typically clear and transparent DG sound.

These accounts of the symphonies are spacious and detailed, and deserve to be much better known. I can only think they have been a victim of the idea that only British conductors are approved for Elgar. Happily, this quaint idea now seems to be changing at last, so perhaps these performances will take the place they deserve, right up there with the more famous accounts.
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on 28 September 2007
I concur in all respects with the comments of "a music fan", as far as Symphony 2 is concerned (I don't have Sym 1 - I bought the 2nd when it first appeared on its own). As much as I love the sounds Elgar makes, his symphonies never convinced me as symphonic wholes until I heard this recording. Without the score in front of me I have no idea whether Sinopoli is adhering to marked tempi and the composer's instructions, but for the first time in my experience (aside from a superb live performance I heard from Andrew Davis with the Toronto Symphony back in the 70s) Symphony 2 comes across as more than a losely-connected series of events. This is certainly a warm, romantic reading but it doesn't wallow. English conductors tend to project Elgar's bluff, almost soldierly qualities as if all his music is an extension of the Pomp and Circumstance marches (I'm familiar with recordings of both symphonies from those by Elgar himself, through Barbirolli, Boult, Andrew Davis to Vernon Handley). Sinopoli gives us a very different, more introspective view. The notes with my version are illuminating. The Larghetto of Symphony 2 was composed long before the death of Edward VII. In fact the work owes far more to Elgar's trip to Venice than any Edwardian nostalgia, the swirling opening of the third movement inspired by pigeons in Piazza San Marco.
Sound is excellent, and the Philharmonia play like angels.
If you've ever harboured the sneaking suspicion that reviews in the English music press are manifestations of entrenched bias and preference, try this recording on for size. You might also look for the Zukerman/Barenboim Elgar V.C., far preferable in my opinion than any of the Kennedy versions.
Incidentally, "a music fan", there was a version of Elgar 2 by Svetlanov, I believe with a Russian orchestra, back in the days of vinyl. It received somewhat tepid reviews from the usual magazines, surprise, surprise.
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on 25 January 2017
Sir Edward Elgar, Philharmonia Orchestra, Giuseppe Sinopoli (1988-1992), 2 CD DG, 2002.

CD 1 : Symphonie n° 1 - Ouverture "In the South"
CD 2 : Symphonie n° 2 - "Pomp & Circumstance", marches n° 1 et n° 4

Souvent considéré comme excentrique, Giuseppe Sinopoli n'était pas de ces hommes qui font l'unanimité; le découvrir dans un programme que si peu de
chefs d'orchestre non anglo-saxons ont abordé, est une surprise, et comme une aventure.
Dès les premières mesures de la Symphonie n°1, on sait que l'expérience ne sera pas banale. Tout habitée de colère, conquérante et furieuse, avec ses
éclats trompettants, que nous sommes loin de la haute noblesse un peu grasse et dodelinante, si edwardienne, que lui donne certains chefs anglais! Comme
cette symphonie est moderne -bel et bien! Comme Elgar prend un coup de jeune! On peut rejeter tant d'audaces, mais si l'on prend la peine d'écouter d'une
oreille de bonne foi, on reconnaît vite qu'elles ont été mûrement réfléchies, que, maîtrisées, elle sont convaincantes, et que l'orchestre possède l'art et
les moyens de suivre les intentions du chef!
La cohésion est totale, l'homogénéité constante. Ce qui danse et s'agite ici, c'est du bronze!

Tant d'expansivité, cette relative démesure convient sans doute moins à la deuxième symphonie, par nature plus réservée, plus intériorisée, parfois classique,
mais le parcours reste passionnant. La modernité du scherzo est manifeste, son aspect presque expérimental évident, plus que nulle part ailleurs, ce qui ne surprend
pas de la part d'un chef qui fut aussi un compositeur, et pas des plus conventionnels. L'Elgar en costume de tweed bien boutonné, avec sa moustache de colonel des
Indes à la retraite, si sage d'apparence, mais d'apparence seulement, est bien loin. Car il y avait derrière cette bonhomie un génie torturé de hautes ambitions
et de terribles angoisses... Sinopoli l'a compris. Et ses "excentricités" mêmes témoignent d'intuitions d'une rare perspicacité, mettant l'accent sur l'aspect miltonien
de l'inspiration du compositeur.

Difficile de juger de ce que Sinopoli aurait fait de "Pomp & Circumstance", avec deux marches seulement. Dans la première, il cède à l'exubérance, mais le colossal
n'est pas la grandeur; comme vidée de sa substance, la marche n'est guère que grandiloquence et boursouflure. Mais la 4e tient toutes ses promesses, comme
l'Ouverture "In the South", large d'espace, toute de lumière, fluide et splendide. Sinopoli n'était pas qu'un tempérament!

Alors, même si ce n'est pas ainsi qu'Elgar "doit" être entendu (dans les deux sens du terme), il faut l'entendre ainsi, et le réentendre... C'est mieux qu'une expérience;
elle sert le compositeur, et nous instruit.
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on 23 August 2015
Its realy good perfomans.
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