This recording is released as a celebration of Elgar’s 150th anniversary.
Richard Hickox is famous for his readings of British composers, especially Elgar. It is coupled with the rarely recorded orchestral transcription of the Organ Sonata.
In honour of Elgar’s 150th anniversary, Richard Hickox – famous for his master’s touch with the music of British composers – and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales have recorded the noble and expansive First Symphony, one of the composer’s greatest public triumphs, demonstrating the work’s grandeur, sweep and imaginative detail, and sure to prove a refreshing alternative to performances currently available on the market. This disc follows the riveting recording of Symphony No. 2 and In the South, and presages the release of Elgar’s Symphony No. 3 and Pomp and Circumstance March No. 6 (both realised by Anthony Payne). Hans Richter, the leading German conductor, directed the first performance and hailed the work as ‘the greatest symphony of modern times’. Stirring and graceful, it asserts Elgar’s deeply felt ‘massive hope for the future’. It is coupled here with an orchestral version of the Sonata for organ – an instrument Elgar had played from an early age. Some years after Elgar’s death, Sir Adrian Boult recommended Gordon Jacob for the task of transcribing the sonata for orchestra. Jacob was a composer in his own right, and renowned for his expertise in orchestration. This sympathetic translation of the sonata into a remarkable re-creation of Elgar’s own orchestral sound-world not only brings the work to a wider audience, but also underlines its affinities with the composer’s later and better-known music. On the original version Hickox commented in 1983: ‘it’s a work I used to play and always felt that it needed an orchestra and not an organ!’ The orchestral version was first heard in 1947.
This is a must for lovers of Elgar and British music.