Energetic new Elgar First
Bruce Hodges | New York, NY | 07/01/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"On their own in-house label, the Halle Orchestra and Mark Elder give us a resplendent new Elgar First Symphony, coupled with an exciting, richly played "In the South." These are vigorous performances, filled with energy and very well recorded. The symphony in particular has wonderful solidity, and a cumulative power that peaks in the final movement. (In between, make sure to savor the lovely, tender "Adagio.") "In the South" was new to me, and it's highly enjoyable -- again, played with as much passion as the symphony. And as if these two weren't enough, soprano Christine Rice, with Elder at the piano, does might be considered a charming encore, a short song called "In Moonlight." The revitalized orchestra sounds marvelous. This and the group's two other recent offerings (Nielsen and more Elgar) will no doubt help bring a larger audience for this superb ensemble, not to mention conductor Mark Elder. This completely assured recording shows that he clearly knows his Elgar.Some people I know think Elgar's work is a bit stiff or on the quiet side, and if you feel similarly, this might be just the antidote you need. A really invigorating start to what I hope will be a long and fruitful Elder/Halle era."