Post by Alex Brown Post by msw design
Yes, Dave is prodding some of my listening. His Elgar 2
video had me return to my recent favorite - Baremboim/SB -
to see if my initial appreciation of it was dimmed. Nope.
Love it. Beautiful orchestral sound, legato phrasing,
propulsive, spontaneous, felt, and never foursquare.
Now I'm listening to Slatkin. It's not bad, and may be
quite good. But the recording- ugh. The orchestra has no
weight at all. I love me some good hall ambiance, I do,
but this soundstage stinks. The orchestra gets loud and I
just hear an ugly space. I swear Steinberg's Beethoven
discs have more bass than what we have here.
Slatkin does flirt with sounding foursquare, too. The
first movement the "evil theme", or whatever David calls
it, has no allure at all. Sounds like a depiction of a
well-designed bookshelf. I guess Elgar condones this sort
of stiffness, and one of the things I like about Barenboim
is that Elgar sounds a bit more like Wagner. Sounds nuts?
Nope- that's all good from my angle.
Any reactions here to these two recordings, Dave's other
faves, and your own picks?
I am a huge Elgar 2 fan. It's a piece I came to love through
the accident of having it on a portable music player while
commuting and never having time to refresh the playlist.
From "huh?" my reaction went to "well, it's nice I suppose"
to - after around 20 listens - "Holy *£$# - this is a
masterpiece!". Is it the greatest C20th symphony I wonder?
Funny how some Elgar is so "easy" and yet other of his stuff
seems to need a lot of listening to "click".
I liked how DH's video enthused about the symphonic strength
of the work and the need for balance. Spot on!
I too think that Barenboim's Staatskapelle Berlin recording
is excellent - probably my favourite in a strong field (for
reference I also have Andrew Davis 1992,
Previn/Concertgebouw 1992, Sinopoli 1987, Barbirolli 1964,
Handley 1980, Solti 1975, Colin Davis 2001, Elgar 1927, Tate
1990, Haitink 1984, Menuhin 1990 - and have watched K
Petrenko's Berlin PO performance on the Digital Concert Hall
a couple of times).
Previn's slow movement is 11:40 - quite a contrast to
Sinopoli's 18:25. Is there any other symphonic movement that
has such a range of tempo variation on record I wonder.
For me a touchstone of any recording is the passage for oboe
in the middle of the slow movement which I like to have a
sense of line balanced (yes) against the troubling
rhythmical goings on everywhere else in the orchestra.
Handley is excellent here.
I was intrigued by DH's description of the Mackerras and so
bought a download - it's another excellent one and the
"faithful" string portamenti add an interesting touch.
I've heard too many very good but ultimately rather bland
Slatkin recordings to be tempted by that recommendation.
will be, praised by somebody before this thread dies out.
Except maybe Slatkin. I looked around to see about
universally praised enough to buy without listening first.