Sir Edward ELGAR (1857-1934): Introduction and Allegro, Op. 47, Symphony No. 1, Op. 55
Chandos Records SACD CHSA5181 @ £12.25*
Doric String Quartet, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Edward Gardner
The Sunday Times, CD of the Week, 14 May 2017 “The British conductor is a seasoned Elgarian, and he coaxes playing of special splendour here from the brass and strings, which reveal richer sonorities in the saturated textures and brilliant contrapuntal writing.”
Elgar’s music is often taken to be a soundtrack to Britain’s — or rather England’s — Victorian-Edwardian imperial land of hope and glory, but he was a composer of the European mainstream, as complex and conflicted a figure as his German and Austrian contemporaries Strauss and Mahler
After memorable Walton and Britten discs, more Elgar from this source is greatly to be welcomed.”
“Edward Gardner definitely puts refinement before moment-by-moment impact in his first venture into Elgar on disc. His treatment of the Introduction and Allegro – with the Doric Quartet joining the strings of the BBC Symphony Orchestra to provide the solo group – is notable more for its clarity and carefully graded textures than for its bracing athleticism, though it does finally deliver a real punch in the peroration. Gardner adopts a similar slow-burn approach to the First Symphony, too ….
Where he does score heavily, though, is in the closing pages of the finale, where, because he has controlled the pacing of the movement so skilfully, the return of the motto theme that opened the symphony really does carry the weight – the “great charity and a massive hope in the future” – that Elgar imagined. Even Daniel Barenboim’s otherwise outstanding recent Decca recording can’t make that wonderful resolution anything like as convincing as Gardner does.” The Guardian
“Edward Gardner presides over a dashingly articulate, enviably integrated and deeply-felt account of Elgar’s mighty A flat major symphony featuring the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the very top of its game. Of the expansive opening movement Gardner proves himself a master. Right from the outset bass-lines stalk with reassuring purpose and solidity, the main Allegro ideally combines swagger and thrust (such splendidly snapping trombones and tuba in particular), while Gardner and his acutely responsive colleagues extract every ounce of fragrant poetry and tumbling fantasy from the gorgeously dappled dialogue at the movement’s heart
A terrific Elgar 1, then, and it’s preceded by a marvellously flexible, ardent and exhilaratingly lithe Introduction and Allegro, where the Doric String Quartet’s superb contribution conjures up memories of Allegri Quartet’s on Sir John Barbirolli’s legendary Sinfonia of London account from 1962 (EMI/Warner Classics). Chandos’s SACD sound is handsomely ripe and true. All told, a genuine treat.” Classical Ear
“It turns out to be a focused and intense performance… Gardener’s is a very worthwhile addition to the recorded repertoire of one of England’s greatest composers. This surround-sound recording brings together some of Chandos’ finest artists for the first time in subtle, passionate accounts of these two Elgar masterpieces. The Doric String Quartet – highly praised for its series of Haydn and Schubert quartets – joins strings from the BBC Symphony under Edward Gardner in the Introduction and Allegro, while the full orchestra appears in the much-loved Symphony No. 1.” Classical CD Choice
This new Elgar surround-sound recording brings together some of Chandos’ finest exclusive British artists for the first time.
The Doric String Quartet – highly praised for its series of Haydn and Schubert quartets – joins the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Edward Gardner in the Introduction and Allegro, one of Elgar’s masterpieces. Gardner here captures the subtle contrast between the solo quartet and the string ensemble, while also reconciling a wide variety of musical ideas and tempo fluctuations, not least the ever-popular ‘Welsh’ solo viola melody. The full Orchestra then appears in a passionate account of the majestic Symphony No. 1, a much-loved work ever since its premiere in 1906.
As well as highly praised Walton and Britten recordings, the enduring relationship between Edward Gardner and the BBC Symphony Orchestra has seen successful series of works by non-British composers such as Szymanowski and Lutoslawski.
Edward Gardner is also involved in recording projects with many other orchestras, including the Bergen Philharmonic, the CBSO, and the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, his latest new collaboration.
Chandos Records SACD CHSA5181 @ £12.25*