Elgar - Violin Concerto; Enigma Variations
Yehudi Menuhin vn London Symphony Orchestra, Royal Albert Hall Orchestra / Sir Edward Elgar
EMI 566979-2 Buy now
(75’ · AAD)
Recorded 1932, 1926.
Elgar’s conducting for Menuhin in the Violin Concerto’s opening orchestral tutti is magnificent, as is his solicitous, attentive accompaniment throughout the work. Menuhin’s youthful, wonderfully intuitive musicianship in fact needed little ‘instruction’, and the success of the recording may be judged from the fact that there have been few periods in the years since it was first issued when it hasn’t been available in some shape or form.
Of the Enigma Variations, recorded in 1926, one could write at length, but let one example suffice: Elgar’s portrait of himself in the last of the variations. This is often declared to be bombastic – and can, of course, sound so – but as Elgar conducts it one receives no such impression. He had successfully achieved a work of great distinction and originality, and here rejoices at its completion and perhaps in his own great technical skill, so hard-won and here so superbly displayed. That is not bombast: and how touching is the reference to the Lady Elgar variation. One can only revel in this full-blooded, uninhibited music and only wish the Enigma had had the advantage of the better recording enjoyed by other recordings of the day.
Since the original matrices of the Violin Concerto were destroyed, EMI’s engineers had to return to the 1957 tape for this transfer; although the 1957 engineers did not quite capture all the body of the originals there’s an impressive clarity in the transfer, now brightened a little more for CD.