Not the best of Elgar's compositions, but they certainly are
Eric S. Kim | Southern California | 11/18/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Elgar's cantata/choral symphony "The Black Knight" has that medieval, cinematic feel that's not quite found in other more famous works like his "Cello Concerto" and "Enigma Variations". It's a 36-minute piece that tells of a jousting during Pentecost. A mysterious black knight (no, not the one with a flesh wound) is undefeated and arrives at a royal feast. But everything he see and touches die (including the King's children), and the king has "nothing left to live for". It's a sad story, but the music doesn't seem to make it sad.
"Scenes from the Bavarian Highlands" has the typical German atmosphere. It's sometimes cheery and lyrical and heavenly, but it's always romantic throughout. My favorite segments are "Lullaby" and "The Marksmen" simply because they're the most compelling in the piece.
Richard Hickox, one of my favorite English conductors, does well here with the London Symphony Orchestra. He takes it all straightforward, never losing track of the overall structure of the two scores. And that makes this essential since there aren't that many recordings of "Black Knight" and "Bavarian Highlands" around. The orchestra is great, also. Woodwinds and strings have it good. The brass could've improved a bit, but they impress me nonetheless.
I seirously recommend this CD to any Elgar fan that's out there (or any classical fan in general). Grade: A-"