A cheap way to get the most popular Elgar, but the conductin
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 07/12/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Early on Leonard Slatkin set himself on the improbable course of specializing in British music. He filled a hole in RCA's catalog, and thanks to his popularity, particularly in the media, he introduced more American listeners to Vaughan Wiliams and Elgar. But the English haven't exactly been sleeping. These performances with the London Phil. [...] up against Boult's famous recordings with the same orchestra, not to mention equally superb accounts from Barbirolli, Vernon Handley, Colin Davis, etc. In the Enigma Variations the net spreds much wider to include readings by Monteux (a great performance on Decca), Bernstein, Solti, Levine (amazing playing form the Berlin Phil. on Sony), Stokowski (made very late in his life with the Czech Phil.), and others.
By comparison, Slatkin's account is wayward, mannered, and frequently slow--the opening theme makes your hert sink with its slugghish tempo and precious phrasing. Things improve in the Serenade for Strings, and when the BSO intervvenes to play the Introduction and Allegro, we get first-rate execution and good conducting. The 63 min. program ends with a run-of-the-mill Pomp and Circumstance March that leaves no impression.
In all, this is certainly a cheap way to get some familiar Elgar, but the conducting is disappointing."