CD & DVD

Lacks clarity, but is filled with spirits

23.01.2017


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Elgar: Enigma Variations & other orchestral works
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Martyn Brabbins
Hyperion 0034571281018

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Lacks clarity, but is filled with spirits  

It is difficult to be content with any, but British orchestras rendering of Elgar. Here too, the BBC Symphony Orchestra provides interpretations of a truly Elgarian spirit, switching between moods, here thoughtful and there turbulent, in perfect manner. What is lacking is orchestral clarity and purposefulness in the connection of the variations. This is a very difficult work for sure and the conducting of Martyn Brabbins is not up to the standards required. He sure has a love for Elgar, which one can easily see from some of the variations, the 9th being a case in point, which is the best track of the CD. Yet, overall, the piece does not flourish and deliver. The same cannot be said of the five other pieces on the CD. There, the music being more accessible, less problematic and simpler. Brabbins and his orchestra can easily match the task. Admirers of Elgar should easily acquire this one, if only for the non-enigmatic pieces, but not a top choice for the Variations. These rarely heard pieces are a wonderful way to explore Elgar’s heroicsm as in Op. 79, the darkness of Op. 77 as well as the high spirits of The Carillion or lyricism in The Pleading. All these pieces have been well displayed by the orchestra and conductor and the highest point of the recording is in the Alasso, with a variety of colors displayed well by able instrumentalists of the orchestra.

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