On this CD, we get Elgar’s best-loved orchestral works in this new album. Conductor Sir Andrew Davis has recorded most of these pieces before – but this collection benefits from his by-now vastly experienced wisdom in the field, and the BBC Philharmonic is terrific.
The major work here is the Elgar Cello Concerto from 1919 – the last major piece Elgar completed. Paul Watkins is a sensitive soloist, and he and Davis clearly have a special rapport, presumably dating back to the years they worked together at the BBC Symphony Orchestra as, respectively, Principal Cellist and Chief Conductor. The melancholic opening bars are filled with a kind of sadness that permeates the whole performance.
The BBC Philharmonic strings are richly full-blooded and rhythmically excellent in the Introduction and Allegro. There is a wonderful ebb and flow to the lighter passages, which radiate warmth and a beautiful sound,
Following the Cello concerto is the Introduction and Allegro, Op. 47 by Edward Elgar. The melodies are sweeping and fresh, with the strings taking center stage. It is just wonderful and a treat to listen to. Then we hear the Elegy, Op. 58, and it is just beautiful from start to finish.
At this point, the disc changes gears and it is time for `Pomp and Circumstance’, Op. 39. I have always enjoyed well – played march music, and this is delightful! All five marches are filled with high energy, marvelous horn work, and leave the listener smiling.
Here are Paul Watkins (Cello) and Mark Wigglesworth (Conductor) rehearsing with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra on
October 20, 2011
And here’s a real classic: Yo-Yo Ma with Daniel Barenboim and the Chicago Symphony in this performance from 1997. This concerto will forever be associated with Jaqueline duPre, but YYMa gives a performance that is beyond breathtaking. It is fitting that Barenboim is the conductor;
Tags: Edward Elgar, Cello Concerto, Paul Watkins, Sir Andrew Davis