Andrew Davis - Elgar: Enigma Variations; In the South; Serenade for Strings

Andrew Davis - Elgar: Enigma Variations; In the South; Serenade for Strings
Elgar: Enigma Variations; In the South; Serenade for Strings
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This fourth disc in Signum Classics' series of recordings with London's famed Philharmonia Orchestra features Andrew Davis leading the music of Edward Elgar: Enigma Variations, Serenade for Strings, and the concert overture, In the South. The Philharmonia's playing is faithfully and affectionately executed. The greatest of London studio orchestras in the '50s and early '60s, the Philharmonia in 2009 is not quite as brilliantly virtuosic as it once had been. But it has ripened into a rich-toned, warmly balanced ensemble, and its long familiarity with the composer and the music has only deepened the orchestra's fondness for his heart-swelling tones and opulent textures. Their playing does conspicuously lack verve, though, a lack for which Davis is responsible. The conductor manifestly knows and loves the music, and he shows his love by caressing every phrase nearly to death. With his tempos on the slow side and his interpretations on the sentimental side, Davis' reading of the Enigma is discursive and his account of the Serenade is sluggish. His least effective performance, In the South, quickly stalls and never quite regains forward momentum, so that by the time the big theme and the main tempo return two minutes before the 22-minute work ends, the listener's attention will likely have wandered far, far away. The live digital sound here is evocative enough, but oddly dull and a bit muffled.

Enigma Variations, for orchestra, Op. 36
Theme (Andante) EnigmaAndrew Davis1:27
Variation 1 (L'istesso tempo) C. A. E.Andrew Davis1:56
Variation 2 (Allegro) H. D. S.-P.Andrew Davis0:44
Variation 3 (Allegretto) R. B. T.Andrew Davis1:25
Variation 4 (Allegro di molto) W. M. B.Andrew Davis0:29
Variation 5 (Moderato) R. P. A.Andrew Davis2:11
Variation 6 (Andantino) YsobelAndrew Davis1:18
Variation 7 (Presto) TroyteAndrew Davis0:59
Variation 8 (Allegretto) W. N.Andrew Davis2:00
Variation 9 (Adagio) NimrodAndrew Davis4:01
Variation 10 (Intermezzo: Allegretto) DorabellaAndrew Davis2:32
Variation 11 (Allegro di molto) G. R. S.Andrew Davis0:58
Variation 12 (Andante) B. G. N.Andrew Davis2:57
Variation 13 (Romanza: Moderato) * * *Andrew Davis3:04
Variation 14 (Finale: Allegro) E. D. U.Andrew Davis5:40
In the South ("Alassio"), concert overture for orchestra, Op. 50Andrew Davis22:51
Serenade, for strings in E minor, Op. 20
1. Allegro piacevoleAndrew Davis3:24
2. LarghettoAndrew Davis5:39
3. AllegrettoAndrew Davis2:53

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