CD: Elgar: Enigma Variations; Introduction and Allegro

(LSO Live)

These performances are taken from concerts at the Barbican in London in January that were Colin Davis's first as the LSO's president, and they provide an instructive example of how the same performances can make such different impressions live and on disc. In the hall, Davis's account of the Enigma Variations was the highlight of the programme, measured but wonderfully secure and superbly played. Heard again here, though, it seems lethargic and under-characterised; the recording is detailed and the LSO's playing stands up to close scrutiny, but Davis's approach never really communicates the quick-witted and affectionate nature of Elgar's portraits of his friends, nor the command of the orchestral writing.

The Introduction and Allegro for strings fares a bit better, if still without achieving the level of characterisation and inwardness that the finest Elgarians bring to this music. At LSO Live's bargain price, however, the disc will have its devotees.


Andrew Clements

The GuardianTramp

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