Elgar: Violin Concerto; etc - review

Little/Royal Scottish National Orchestra/Davis

The Elgar concerto has been something of a signature work for Tasmin Little throughout her career, so it's surprising that she is only now recording it for the first time. After such a delay, though, her version seems a bit of a disappointment, lacking in the combination of poetic inwardness and dramatic purpose that is the essence of this concerto. Two outstanding versions already issued in this year of the concerto's centenary – with Nikolaj Znaider and Thomas Zehetmair as soloists respectively – did so much more memorably, in their very different ways. Little's version is distinctive in one way, for she includes as an appendix the reworked version of the last-movement cadenza that Elgar wrote when he conducted the first recording of the work in 1916, reinforcing the strings' thrumming accompaniment to the solo violin with a harp. It's not an improvement over the magical effect of the original, and was clearly a compromise forced on him by the limitations of recordings in those days – a historical curiosity more than anything else.


Andrew Clements

The GuardianTramp

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