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Edward Elgar Symphony no. 1
Berlioz Overtures King Lear & Beatrice & Benedict

Staatskapelle Dresden/Sir Colin Davis

Hänssler Profil CD PHOJ040 [live recordings at Semperoper, Dresden; TT: 75 mins]

A marvellous day's listening yesterday; I have recommended Tennstedt's 1985 Janáček Glagolitic Mass as having for me "taken the palm for the "tingle factor" with its uncanny immediacy"...

The same can be said for the impact of this 1998 German Radio recording of Davis with the Staatskapelle Dresden. It is wholly involving and unlikely to be outshone by any of the other studio (or live) recordings of this much-loved English masterpiece.

The notes bring a German perspective, stressing Elgar's championship by Strauss, Jäger and Hans Richter, who told the Hallé that they were going to play "the greatest symphony of the modern era, by the greaatest composer - and not just of this country".

It is as fine a performance as you need to know, and I am happy to endorse Andrew McGregor who described on BBCR3 how it "sweeps majestically ahead, adrenaline pumping, before glancing behind in those wistfully nostalgic moments that pepper the score".

An auspicious Vol.1 to inaugurate Profil/Hanssler's Edition Staatskapelle Dresden series.

Peter Grahame Woolf

Elgar: Enigma Variations, Op. 36; Introduction & Allegro for strings, Op. 47
London Symphony Orchestra/Sir Colin Davis

LSO Live LSO 0109
[live at the Barbican Centre Enigma Jan 2007; Introduction & Allegro 2005; 48 mins]

LSO's motto for their recordings is "The energy and emotion you only experience live" and this is well conveyed from these Elgar performances at The Barbican, and on a great picture of him in full flight by Alberto Venizago on line at http://lso.co.uk/downloadables/lumps/upload/756-152.pdf (p.8).

Both works are superbly recorded and burst into your living room with full intensity and immediacy. There is however not an audible hint of the presence of a 'live' audience. It is fashionable nowadays to have exhortatory announcements to stifle coughing (and mobile phones) and for conductors to "play" the audience to delay applause, eliminated completely from these recordings; that not to my taste... (What do readers prefer?)

In his 80th birthday year (and mine) Sir Colin Davis can be satisfied that his career - which I have followed since the days he was in charge of an amateur orchestra in Chelsea - is marvellously preserved for all foreseeable time on disc (now) and will be on whatever sound medium successor will soon replace the CD...

These LSO Live and Edition Staatskapelle Dresden series are as good a way to start building a Davis collection as any.

Peter Grahame Woolf