"This box contains a collection of Barbirolli's late Elgar recordings for EMI, from the sixties. All recordings have been previously released as singular discs, but some - e.g., the symphonies - are out of print. This box is thus a welcome release. Barbirolli's Elgar interpretation must be seen as essential for any serious collection, in addition to Boult's and Elgar's own recordings. The particular warmth and passion that is so typical for Barbirolli's interpretations make these recordings so special. In my view, it is the best Elgar interpretations you probably ever will hear - partly, of course, because they are classic, immortal moments of musical history.
The box collects the following classic and essential recordings.
Symphonies 1 & 2, with Philharmonia Orchestra and Hallé Orchestra (rec. 1962 and 1964). Introduction and Allegro, with Allegri string quartet and Sinfonia of London - a legendary recording from 1962. Serenade, Sinfonia of London, 1962. Elegy, Sospiri, and Froissart with New Philharmonia Orchestra, recorded in 1966. Cockaigne, Philharmonia Orchestra, 1962. Falstaff, with Hallé Orchestra, recorded in 1964. Enigma Variations, Philharmonia Orchestra, recorded in 1962. Pomp and Circumstances, Philharmonia Orchestra, recorded in 1962 and 1966. Sea Pictures, with Janet Baker and London Symphony Orchestra, recorded in 1965 - a legendary recording. Cello concerto, with Jacqueline du Pré and London Symphony Orchestra, recorded in 1965 - another legendary recording.
All these are crème de la crème Elgar interpretations, and many of them have a legendary status. The only real complaint is that EMI could have added Barbirolli's excellent interpretation of Elgar's Gerontius as well. And even if EMI has not provided new digital remasterings but only collected their old ones in this box - just to mention another possible complaint - it is an essential, shelf-space saving purchase. Sonically, the recordings are all very fine.
In sum, this is the best Elgar collection you can get for your money. The only rival is Leonard Slatkin's Elgar box (RCA), but it's no match for Barbirolli's box, even if it is good in in own right. Strongly and warmly recommended! "
Elgar orchestral works
M. R. Sammons | Somerset. UK | 01/25/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"as a young lad in Manchester in the 60's and 70's I had the priveledge of hearing a few live Barbirolli perfomrances, all of them memorable. This set reminds me of those loving interpretations - has anyone done the death of Falstaff more movingly? It was a joy to rehear these strong, lyrical and passionate interpretations agan."
Excellent Performances! Excellent Value! Great Sound Quality
Frederick Baptist | Singapore | 07/25/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have always loved English composers and Elgar has always been a favourite of mine and now we get his best works in a beautifully packaged cardboard box set on 5 cds housed in attractively designed cardboard sleeves. Also included is a glossy 16-page booklet with the track listings and a 2006 essay by Lyndon Jenkins in English, German and French. Barbirolli was contemporary with Elgar who even stated once that Barbirolli was one 'in whose work I have confidence'. In fact, whenever Elgar was too ill to conduct his work it was Barbirolli who deputised with the composer's blessing and so we can have faith in this conductor's interpretations of Elgar as having the composer's blessing.
If you are only familiar with Elgar through the "Enigma Variations" and "Pomp and Circumstance" you should get this set for his other great work with the 1st and 2nd Symphonies being my personal favourites although every piece here is good. The 5th cd also contains the wonderful Cello Concerto performed by the great Jacqueline du Pre which is also among my personal favourites.
The sound quality is very good despite the fact Barbirolli also had the same irritating habit as Leonard Bernstein in humming along while he conducts and it does become a little obvious during parts of the 1st and 2nd Symphony but thankfully not too loud to detract too much from one's overall listening enjoyment.
Overall, this is an excellent collection of Elgar's work performed by a great conductor and various orchestras with great sound quality and a great price making it an excellent addition to your sonic library and great value for money.
Some Of The Best Elgar Available
J. Rich | 02/24/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Conductor John Barbirolli really understood Elgar's music, then again, he was great with English composers anyway. He did some outstanding work with Delius that seems to be underrated. His Sibelius readings are also very interesting and offer new insights into his music. The same applies with this Elgar set.
I'm really not too familiar with Elgar's music until a couple of weeks ago when I was debating on which box set to buy. I talked to various people who were big Elgar fans and said I should check out Barbirolli's Elgar. Needless to say, I'm glad I did! This 5-disc EMI box set is a thing of beauty. All of the orchestras herein: London Symphony, New Philharmonia, Philharmonia Orch. of London, Sinfonia of London, and Halle Orchestra do an outstanding job with this material. Also, the audio quality is very, very good considering the age of these performances.
You really can't go wrong with investing in this box set, because if you like Elgar and Barbirolli, then the work is already done for you. These compressed box sets, in addition to saving money, save a lot of room on your shelf. These are some fine interpretations of Elgar's orchestral works. Don't hesitate for a second, buy these while you still can."