Various Artists

Elgar: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 2; In the South; Serenade for Strings

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Longtime fans of English music may well be familiar with John Barbirolli's magnificent EMI recordings of Edward Elgar's two symphonies: his noble, dramatic First with its searing Finale, and his ardent, exuberant Second, with its dark night of the soul Larghetto as its core. Listeners who are already familiar with Barbirolli's performances, as well as anyone new to the works may find this two-disc set worth hearing, in part because of the rarely recorded works that fill out the discs. Preceding the First Symphony is a rousing and rambunctious 1967 recording of Elgar's hard-charging In the South concert overture, with Contantin Silvestri and the Bournemouth Symphony. The Second Symphony, with Norman del Mar and the Bournemouth Symphony, is preceded by a richly nostalgic 1967 recording of Elgar's tender Serenade for Strings. Although not quite in the same league as Barbirolli's performances, these recordings should interest dedicated Elgarians. The recordings were made in lush stereo sound.

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