ELGAR Symphony No 2 – Davis
Hearing again Sir Andrew Davis’s magnificently unforced and deeply moving 1992 recording of Elgar’s Second has merely confirmed its exceptional qualities. Not only does Davis display a structural grasp that is second to none, but he also penetrates unerringly to the symphony’s emotional core. Certainly, the ‘malign influence’ that stalks the twilit heart of the opening movement is distilled to illimitably haunting effect here, while the succeeding Larghetto has a devastating candour and intimacy about it. Occasionally I craved more clout from the BBC strings; otherwise, all involved play their hearts out.
In sum, a performance to cherish, and it’s prefaced by a scarcely less thrilling In the South, its thrusting vigour and fragrant tenderness judged to perfection. Boasting resplendently natural sound (Tony Faulkner working within the familiar surroundings of St Augustine’s, Kilburn) and now retailing for around a fiver, this is a bargain of bargains.