Vasily Petrenko / Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra

Elgar: Symphony No. 1; Cockaigne Overture

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The first volume in a series on Onyx devoted to the orchestral works of Edward Elgar, this 2015 release presents the Cockaigne Overture and the Symphony No. 1 in A flat major, in exciting performances by Vasily Petrenko and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. The jaunty Cockaigne is a rousing opener, played with great energy and a sense of fun, assuring that not all of Elgar's music is dignified and noble but often sparkles with humor. The Symphony No. 1, on the other hand, is one of Elgar's most profound statements, and it is one of the great symphonies of the 20th century. Petrenko gives the work a powerful reading, putting emphasis on its dynamic counterpoint and the transparent orchestration, for which this symphony has often been praised. The orchestra delivers the music with fine polish and moving expressions, especially in the Adagio, which is the emotional core of the symphony. Perhaps the only criticism worth making is that the reproduction would have benefitted from super audio technology, because the stereo recording seems too limited for this exceptional performance, which calls instead for a wider audio range and greater depth.

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