I loved the Solti LP of 1st symphony. In fact it made me realise Elgar was a great composer. I have tried Elgar's own recording and also one of Boult's. The Boult has many fine qualities, but in the end I had to give in and buy the Solti. He alone, so far as I know, approaches the speeds and manner of Elgar - the very opposite of Barbirolli in fact. Dry-eyes, wiping away a small tear from his Edwardian moustache, Elgar never wallows and above all keeps it all moving. The 2nd is also impressive and In the South not as bad as the Penguin Guide makes out.
Very rewarding recordings dating from the seventies. The performance is first rate. The winner is symphony number one. The two ouvertures are nice fill ups but dispensable. Anyhow, excellent value for money.
I have listened to many recordings of the Elgar symphonies, afterall, they are my favourite pieces of music. They are so beautiful, passionate, magical and just such amazing pieces! This is a great buy as not only does it include the two symphonies, but also two of Elgar's other fantastic orchestral works: the concert overtures: "Cockaigne" and "In The South".
Solti's performances of all the pieces on these cd's really bring out the passion in Elgar's masterpieces. Solti's tempi are well - judged throughout. Some people may find them a little on the fast side, but that may be because they have been listening to some of the more recent recordings where conductors take many passages half the speed of some of the older recordings. Well, I find the speeds just right, and besides, you should hear the speed Elgar himself took his works!
Solti's handling of the wonderful orchestrations and textures are perfect, and the London Philharmonic's playing is impeccable. Solti really does capture the magic of the beautiful last few minutes from the last movement of the second symphony, it brings tears to my eyes everytime.... And also, the glorious finale of the first symphony is just fantastic. Solti also brings very enjoyable, exciting performances to the concert overtures. This recording of the Cockaigne Overture is definitely my favourite. But for the In The South overture, Sir Alexander Gibson's recording on Chandos is my favourite.
Another plus is generally, the recorded sound and orchestral balance of this cd is fantastic. A very bright sound.
So, I can highly reccommend this cd to you, my favourite recordings of the symphonies and the Cockaigne Overture. I am sure Elgar would be satisfied!
Elgar’s two symphonies are among the finest of the late romantic era. On a purely musical level they have gloriously beautiful themes, brilliant development sections, and masterful orchestration. But it is the emotional content - superbly expressed euphoria and dysphoria - that marks their real greatness. Solti captures this better than any conductor apart from Elgar’s himself. Where most other conductors seem to view the highs as national celebrations and the lows as a nations’ mournings, Solti reads them correctly as personal emotions, not those of a wider world. Where others lose energy, linger, and over-indulge, so robing the music of nervous energy, Solti always keeps moving, just as Elgar’s did.