Colin Davis

Elgar: Enigma Variations; Introduction & Allegro

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Lackadaisical in the Enigma Variations and slapdash in the Introduction and Allegro for strings, this addendum to Colin Davis and the London Symphony's series of masterful recordings of Elgar's symphonies and oratorio "The Dream of Gerontius" is distinctly, even acutely, disappointing. Recorded live in January 2007, Davis and the LSO seem to be trying in the Enigma, but they aren't able to sustain the lines or the tempos. There are some marvelous moments here -- the hushed opening of Nimrod is magnificent -- but too often the rhythms drag and the tempos flag -- the tedious remainder of Nimrod seems to go on forever. Recorded in September and December 2005, the Introduction and Allegro betrays its origins with scrappy, sloppy, and disjointed with astonishingly out-of-tune playing from the LSO's strings. There are many better recordings of both works available -- to start with, try Boult's Enigma or Barbirolli's Introduction and Allegro -- this disc is for Davis completists only. LSO's live digital sound here is oddly neither as clear nor as immediate as its earlier recordings.

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