With an all-British cast and a program that nicely mixes several types of Elgar's orchestral music, this promises to be a fine collection cornerstone for this composer whose star has been on the way up. And in part that's the way it works out. The BBC Philharmonic sounds great in its new MediaCity concert space, and conductor Andrew Davis has the music in his bones. He leads the orchestra's strings crisply through what Elgar called the "devil of a fugue" in the Introduction and Allegro for string quartet and string orchestra, Op. 47. The Elegy for strings, Op. 58, is chastely beautiful, and the five Pomp and Circumstance marches, Op. 39, are neither overbearing nor lifeless. It's nice to hear the whole set; for the graduation-standard tune in the middle part of No. 1 has equally good counterparts in several of the others. This isn't a cello album, and the Cello Concerto in E minor, Op. 85, isn't necessarily the center of the program, but the performance by British cellist Paul Watkins isn't up to the level of the rest. Watkins seems to be interested in the unusually intricate relationship between the cello and the orchestra, and indeed there are many points where the balance is very fine, but somewhere the simplicity and emotion of the work get lost in all the precision. Nevertheless, the fine orchestral work throughout makes this a find for Elgar fans.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Cello Concerto in E minor, Op. 85|
2. Lento - Allegro molto - Lento, ad lib - Allegro molto - Più lento - Allegro molto - Tempo 1 - Più mosso
4. Allegro - Moderato - Cadenza - Allegro, ma non troppo - Tempo 1 - Poco più lento - Più lento - Lento - Adagio - Allegro molto
|Introduction and Allegro, Op. 47, for String Quartet and String Orchestra|
|Military Marches 'Pomp and Circumstance', Op. 39|