Mstation Classical Reviews

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Tue, 03 Jul 2007


Sir Edward Elgar, for those who don't know of him, is that quite rare thing, a really well known English composer. He was also a person who rose from humble beginnings in Victorian England and was thus put forward as an example of all that was good in the society of the time. This background has certainly helped in failling to raise class hackle led revisionism - of which there has been much, and which usually seeks to trivialise anything that was particularly good at the time. But that, as they say, is another story.

This year is the 150th birthday for the English composer Edward Elgar and Elgar fans have been anxiously clack, clacking through stores' CD racks to see what has been unearthed from the archives by labels trying to capitalise on the event.

Current opinion is that the London Philharmic Orchestra's LPO label might have done the trick with a 5 CD box set with a variety of tracks of interest including some quite ancient ones, as far as recording history goes. The catalogue number is LPO 00160020.

These tracks include Elgar's first and last appearances with the LPO, both from 1933 - Froissart and the Elegy and Serenade for Strings. Elgar died a year later in 1934. There's Sir Landon Ronald with the Coronation March from a 1935 performance, Sir Adrian Boult conducted two tracks. There's a Tortellier version of the Cello Concerto (preferred by some to Du Pre's, which can be considered to be somewhat overdone), more Boult, and some Solti. And then there's the Dame Janet Baker version of Sea Pictures recorded at Festival Hall on the the 50th anniversary of Elgar's death which is very nice indeed and has never been released before.

So actually, beyond being a bit good, this set might be a bit of a treasure and a fitting excuse to add another box set to the collection. (Baron K)

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