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CD Review

Edward Elgar

Symphony #1

  • Symphony #1 in A Flat Major, Op. 55
  • "In the South" - Concert Overture Op. 50
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Adrian Boult
Testament SBT1229 69m ADD Rec 1949/55
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We tend to forget Sir Adrian's earlier mono outings for EMI and Decca, but hindsight have proved that these are firmly superior tapings when compared to the later stereo efforts.

Both these recordings fairly bubble with infectious vitality and Elgarian "nobilmente" especially the irresistible "In the South". In a way, Boult is quite similar to Elgar's own 1933 recording especially in the loving "Canto popolare" sequence. The Fig. 40 episode is also superbly handled whilst the Tempo I is sheer magic in Boult's hands. The excellent 1955 mono recording has no peers and I would definitely rate this version as the best alongside the composer's.

The same plaudits apply to this recording of the First Symphony. Although the 1949 sound is slightly inferior to "In the South", there is still much body and sheen to the strings. The Andante nobilmente e semplice is indeed superbly paced, here one has to marvel at the corporate vitality of the LPO. The second movement is as gay as one could imagine whilst the deeply felt Adagio boasts some moments of sheer inspirational insight. The Finale is as boisterous as one could imagine, Boult is a hard taskmaster but the orchestra responds quite beautifully.

The Testament engineers have refurbished both performances superbly and Andrew Achenbach's notes are a model of biographical excellence. We have been waiting long for this reissue so snap it up before it disappears!

Copyright © 2001, Gerald Fenech