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Customer Review

on 30 May 2007
`Rarely, rarely comest thou, Spirit of Delight' - and rarely, if ever, has this symphony been performed with such a spirit of generosity! No other recorded performance I know allows us to appreciate how vast, in every way, is this magnificent and elusive symphony.

The liberties taken with the score - and there are not a few! - are forgivable. No, not `forgivable' but laudable! Davis, for once, out Barbirolli's Barbirolli in sheer unstinting emotional intensity of expression.

And that is wholly appropriate - Elgar had said that in this symphony he `has shown' himself, made visible his soul.

The scale here is Wagnerian! But the music, rich and eloquent, is sheer Elgar.

The LSO fully support Davis and give their all.

Detailed dissection of phrases and measures is out of place here - dissection is performed only on a dead creature. But this creature is altogether alive! Cut it and it would bleed!

This work was not understood or appreciated in Elgar's lifetime. This despite Elgar's own recorded performances. Elgar's way with this symphony is entirely different from Davis's. In matters of tempi alone Elgar reaches the works coda nearly 10 minuets before Davis! But also in style - Elgar direct and self-effacing in performance.

That may seem odd - when the musical language and psychology are anything but self-effacing or direct. The complexity of the symphony is exemplified in the ambiguity of the Shelley quotation. Is the content of the symphony an expression of a rare moment of delight or of it absence? Or is the answer `Both'?

Maybe, in this case, the composer wasn't, after all, the ideal conductor and advocate of his own composition. Might is not be altogether heresy to suggest that if the work had been presented as Davis presents it here it would more quickly have gained a following?

We are deeply indebted to the performers for this magnificent version!
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