Since the turn of the century, Colin Davis, Richard Hickox, and Paul Daniel have all released recordings of the Third, and now so has Tadaaki Otaka with the Sapporo Symphony Orchestra, coupling it, as had Hickox, with the Sixth Pomp and Circumstance March. The disc mate is entirely fitting since both the Third Symphony and the Sixth March were left as sketches at Elgar's death, and both were later elaborated and completed by Anthony Payne.
Here, the piece sounds remarkably true to the spirit of the composer with its nobility, expressivity, and reserved but tangible sentimentality. The performance, though well enough played, is less than entirely convincing. The Sapporo Symphony is clearly a capable orchestra, with a bright tone and a polished ensemble, but they too often sound tentative here. Under Otaka, the transitions are a bit rough and the balances sometimes sound less planned than ad hoc. Still, the performers' hearts plainly are in it, and their dedication is enough to make both the symphony and the March persuasive. Anyone unfamiliar with the symphony might be better served by Colin Davis' colossal account, but those who admire the work will more likely than not want to hear this performance, too. Signum's sound is detailed but distant and lacking in depth.