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4.5 out of 5 stars
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Showing 1-10 of 10 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 18 reviews
on February 8, 2015
Pros:
- Hot brass and intense string sections makes Elgar sound like Richard Strauss (I don't know if this is a good thing, but it sound phenomenal)
- In the South: Elgar's seldom played overture works great as the opening track and personally think it's just as good as the "Enigma" variations.
- The Vienna Philharmonic makes Elgar come alive, they literally play music, not just notes.

Cons:
- The mixing is a bit muddy and sometimes overwhelmingly loud.

Additional comments: This recording is fierce, it's the only recording of the "Enigma" variations that has literally made me wept. This is a strong one. However, for some reason Gardiner approached Elgar in a very Straussian or Wagnerian manner. I've never heard Elgar in such fashion. Some alternate recordings that sound very different to this one are André Previn's 1979 recording with the London Symphony Orchestra under EMI, and Sir Colin Davis's 1972 recording also with the LSO. Both are brilliant but are much more tender, perhaps more "British" sounding than this Gardiner's. As another reviewer stated; Gardiner and the Vienna Philharmonic make Elgar sound like a full blown Austrian.
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on September 6, 2017
Have you seen the movie epic, Dunkirk, depicting what in fact happened in WWII when 250,000 Brits, Aussies, GIs, French resistance fighters, and all, were pinned on the beach with nowhere to flee? Facing only certain death. The Enigma variations are interwoven though that entire depiction. Interwoven, as they are a theme and variations. Made more largo than largo sometimes in the soundtrack, but still by the film maker's effort, a well done variation upon the variations. Falling down to great base viol depths , then soaring to the skies. Not in any way scored to commemorate this event, by Sir Elgar. But certainly etched and tabulated in among all great music for the ages.
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on March 19, 2012
The music of Sir Edward Elgar is rarely let out of England. Whenever it does, it's an event, especially when we get to hear the Vienna Phil. I love the best of British orchestras (the LSO in particular) but Vienna is on a higher virtuosic plane than any British orchestra. Some reviewers have stated that Vienna sounds clumsy playing Elgar, but I don't think the idea is substantial. They play with astonishing agility and their warm tone is very welcome.

John Eliot Gardiner isn't the world's most inspired conductor, but I hoped he would be able to impart some vision of his own. Listening to the "In the South" overture that opens the disc, I'm met with a festive atmosphere. My interest was kept throughout the entire overture, although it's certainly the Vienna Phil that provides the greatest attraction. At least Gardiner doesn't inhibit the orchestra. I do wish he would be a bit more sentimental, but this is a brilliant overture, so that's forgivable.

The Introduction and Allegro for Strings is so rich and warm that it takes the breath away. But again, I don't sense that it's Gardiner making the show. I sense little artistic involvement from him, but the glory of the playing is beyond what we expect from even the LSO. I felt much the same way about "Sospiri".

I bought the disc for the Enigma Variations. Elgar incorporated a world of dark beauty into the work that causes me to love it with a passion. There's something inherently Brahmsian about the work. I bought this disc after coming home from a Carnegie Hall concert with Sir Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic. Rattle's reading was incredibly touching, filled with retrospection yet always pulsating and alive. I hoped this disc would have some of the same magic I witnessed with Vienna's only rival. It does to an extent. Vienna's playing is almost as effortless as Berlin's and warmer. But my disappointment is in Gardiner. While he fosters bright, sprightly playing, he doesn't see all the melancholy and regret Elgar sprinkled on virtually every page. (Is this what reviewers are referring to when they say his Elgar is "radical"?) That was a major disappointment, even though I enjoyed the other-worldly playing. "Nimrod" is of course the emotional center of the work, but Gardiner runs through with no desperation. Rattle left me in tears with his poignant intensity in Carnegie Hall but there's no trace of that here. I'll continue to enjoy the performance, but it's due to Vienna. Why couldn't Vienna find a more inspired, committed conductor?

If you want to hear the Vienna Phil engaging in communicative, ravishing playing, here's your chance. Just don't be expecting anything from Gardiner.

P.S. April 2013: For those wanting their Enigmas with top-notch virtuosity, James Levine's reading on Sony with the Berliners surpasses this in every way, with committed conducting and peerless playing.
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on August 2, 2017
I play it over and over. Perfect
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on April 19, 2015
Great music. Well recorded
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on January 11, 2007
What a wonderful performance of this beloved piece. The orchestra is very responsive to the conductor who is probably one of the finest in our age.
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on October 8, 2013
This was my introduction to Elgar's music and its a wonderful piece of music. Great orchestration and recording. If you don't have this disc you need to add it to your collection. And if you are new to classical music and not sure what to try first, this is a great one to get started with – you won't be disappointed.
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on September 12, 2002
The original music itself is great, wonderfully composed stuff, and the Wiener Philharmoniker does a great job playing it.
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on August 24, 2014
Beautiful!
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on December 29, 2012
Fairly good, but didn't blow me away. Enjoyable, but not memorable would sum this up. However we'll certainly play this again.
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