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Elgar: Enigma Variations / Peacock Variations / Paganini Variations

4.6 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Audio CD, October 14, 1997
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Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Variations on a Hungarian folksong, 'The Peacock' ('Felszállott a páva'), for orchestra
  2. Variations on a Theme of Paganini for orchestra, Op. 26
  3. Enigma Variations, for orchestra, Op. 36: Enigma: Andante
  4. Enigma Variations, for orchestra, Op. 36: 1. (C.A.E.): L'istesso tempo
  5. Enigma Variations, for orchestra, Op. 36: 2. (H.D.S.-P.): Allegro
  6. Enigma Variations, for orchestra, Op. 36: 3. (R.B.T.): Allegretto
  7. Enigma Variations, for orchestra, Op. 36: 4. (W.M.B.): Allegro di molto
  8. Enigma Variations, for orchestra, Op. 36: 5. (R.P.A.): Moderato
  9. Enigma Variations, for orchestra, Op. 36: 6. (Ysobel.): Andantino
  10. Enigma Variations, for orchestra, Op. 36: 7. (Troyte.): Presto
  11. Enigma Variations, for orchestra, Op. 36: 8. (W.N.): Allegretto
  12. Enigma Variations, for orchestra, Op. 36: 9. (Nimrod.): Adagio
  13. Enigma Variations, for orchestra, Op. 36: 10. Intermezzo (Dorabella): Allegretto
  14. Enigma Variations, for orchestra, Op. 36: 11. (G.R.S.): Allegro di molto
  15. Enigma Variations, for orchestra, Op. 36: 12. (B.G.N.): Andante
  16. Enigma Variations, for orchestra, Op. 36: 13. Romanza (***): Moderato
  17. Enigma Variations, for orchestra, Op. 36: 14. Finale (E.D.U.): Allegro - Presto


Product Details

  • Orchestra: Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Conductor: Georg Solti
  • Composer: Edward Elgar, Zoltan Kodaly, Boris Blacher
  • Audio CD (October 14, 1997)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Decca
  • ASIN: B0000042FT
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #53,472 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Marcus K. Maroney on December 29, 2004
Format: Audio CD
The Blacher is a great piece, easily the equal of Rachmaninoff's variations on the same theme. The jazzy passages are brought off with panache by the Viennese musicians. The Kodaly is a reading that highlights the dynamic and orchestrational contrasts in the work - it is quick and doesn't dwell anywhere, lending an almost neoclassical feel to the score. The Elgar is a winning rendition - I'm not quite sure what kind of system the reviewer who said the timpani weren't very audible was using, but on my relatively inexpensive one, they are very audible and thrilling where appropriate. Some buyers might be seeking a version with a slow, schmalzy performance of the celebrated "Nimrod" variation - this one flows beautifully and builds to a tremendous climax but doesn't wallow. The recorded sound is all-around splendid - warmer and fuller throughout all ranges than Solti's Chicago recording of this piece.
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For this review I will concentrate mostly on the Elgar. I am less familiar with the Kodaly and the Blacher, but I have heard both before and Solti does justice to both of the pieces. Other reviews might be more enlightening concerning them.
Sir Georg Solti, despite being Hungarian, could compete with any Englishman conducting English music. He has a certain style with Elgar that is unique - muscular and dramatic yet very crisp. This recording is no exception of that. The CD as a whole seems to have a sort of international theme about it, and Solti's interpretation of Enigma seems to have an international feel as well. Of course, this is what happens when you have a Hungarian conducting English music played by an Austrian orchestra. Again, quite unique sounding.
There were only a couple things that troubled me. I don't think I need to discuss them thoroughly. There were some interpretation issues that I didn't quite agree with. Also, the Vienna Philharmonic didn't seem too comfortable with Solti's style, or at least they weren't quite used to it (they are very together in Gardiner's studio performance from a couple years later). As a result there are some ensemble issues and resulting dynamic problems. All of this is probably due to the fact that the performances were recorded live. A studio performance I'm sure would have made a big difference. Solti made one with Chicago earlier in his career, but from what I've heard and from what other reviewers are saying, it still isn't as good as this one. One might imagine what a Solti/London Philharmonic Enigma would sound like. He did all of his other Elgar recordings with them, and they are more experienced with the music.
Everything else I appreciate immensely. The sound is spectacular, just what one would expect from London/Decca.
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By A Customer on May 20, 1999
Format: Audio CD
Solti has a special sense for this music as well as special relatioship with the Vienna Phil. This combination results in some marvelous muisc. This Enigma far outruns his Chicago Sym. version-there is more warmth in the palying and a much less hurried pace.
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I suddenly realized in my collection of Elgar compositions I had overlooked Enigma Variations. I have the Nimrod, Grimethorpe Colliery version, as well as some other versions by lesser known, but no orchestral version. Now I have. Sir Georg Solti and the Vienna PO are the most correct answer I have found. Deeply moved by Elgar and the Enigma Variations I gladly opted for this London CD and was elated. But wait, (no I'm not selling peelers or juicers for $19.99) there's more. On this same label we find a most appealing composition of the Hungarian Folksong, the Peacock, by Kodaly. An amazing trick to create such an intriguing piece using variations on a simple four line melody. Most enjoyable, but wait (ditto, again) there's more. A more contemporary piece by Blacher using a theme of Paganini, op 26. Rachmaninoff would be proud of Blacher's interpretation and variations.
Although my intentions were quite overt, I needed the Enigma Variations but have been most satisfied with the combination of these composers on the same CD.
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