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Cat. No. CHSA 5049 Price: £11.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHSA 5049 - Elgar: Symphony No. 1/ Organ Sonata
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Available From: 01 June 2007
Elgar: Symphony No. 1/ Organ Sonata

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.

Reviews

Critical comment on the recording of the Second Symphony:
Elgarís Second Symphony blossoms in the hands of Richard Hickox and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales.

Classic FM Magazine ĎDisc of the monthí CHSA 5038

Hickox and the BBC NOW follow their Elgar Second with this impressive No. 1, in many ways even finer. The SACD recording is spectacular; you really appreciate the sharpness of articulation of the Cardiff players. Next to this, Hadleyís benchmark CfP recording, lacks a little in focus and clarity, and even the brilliant Solti Decca recording canít quite match it. ÖThe generous coupling adds to the attractions of the disc, an orchestration, pioneered on disc by Handley, of a work which should be far better known. The qualities which make Hickoxís reading of the Symphony so impressive come out here too, crowning an outstanding new issue.
Gramophone Editor's Choice

The sound on the multi-channel SACD layer is specially impressive here, burgeoning luxuriously in Elgarís invitingly sumptuous climaxes. It also powerfully registers the volleys of percussion in the preceding allegro molto movement.
BBC Music Magazine

Hickox steers a distinctive course through Elgarís elegiac Second..bringing out the glory of Elgarís orchestral imagination.
Gramophone on CHSA 5038

Anyone seeking a fine performance with up-to-date engineering will find this new Chandos release a solid choice, far more persuasive to my ears that the widely praised Colin Davis/LSO version.
Fanfare

Richard Hickox is one of Britainís leading Elgar interpreters, so itís surprising he has not recorded the First Symphony until now. This performance has many of the same outstanding qualities as his account of the Second Symphony with the BBC NOW that appeared on Chandos two years ago, especially the wonderful sense of coherence that Hickox gives to the whole span of the four movements, his ability to integrate every section of the outer movements into a convincing whole, and the lustrous orchestral playing.
The Guardian

 

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