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CD Review

Edward Elgar

  • Symphonic Study "Falstaff", Op. 68
  • Variations on an Original Theme "Enigma", Op. 36
  • Pomp & Circumstance March #5 in C Major, Op. 39
New Philharmonia Orchestra/Andrew Davis
Lyrita SRCD.301 69m ADD (Rec in 1975)
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Andrew Davis was always a consummate Elgarian and this can immediately be judged from this well filled Lyrita disc featuring two of the composer's most popular works then recorded for that doyen of British labels, Lyrita. We are fortunate in having this recording again available as to my mind; it is more successful than Davis' later forays into these works available currently in a Warner Classics box set.

"Falstaff" is imbued with a spine tingling sense of nostalgia and panache, aided by the New Philharmonia's superb playing and the wonderful recording sound achieved by the fabled Decca team of Kenneth Wilkinson and John Dunkerly. The strings, an all important part in this difficult work really shine through and I have to rank this version up there amongst Barbirolli, Boult and also Elgar himself.

The "Enigma Variations" are also brilliantly played and conducted with a real feel to each individual number, especially the famous "Nimrod" which comes across as quite emotional. The more reflective pieces such as "Dorabella" or "R.P.A" are also beautifully done. The swaggering Pomp and Circumstance march #5 rounds off a hugely enjoyable CD. Most of you will have multiple versions of these works in your collections but I urge you to make some space for the young Andrew Davis who will definitely not disappoint.

Copyright © 2008 by Gerald Fenech