Edward Elgar – Three Symphonies
London Symphony Orchestra
Sir Colin Davis, conductor
LSO Live, 2005
In this recording, the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Colin Davis performs the three symphonies composed by Edward Elgar. Of the symphonies, only the first, in A flat major, Op. 55 (1907-1908), was performed successfully during the composer’s life, since the Symphony no. 2 in E flat major (1911), did not find wide acclaim and an anonymous critic deplored it as a product of «pessimism and rebellion» because, unlike the first, in the final do not reassemble the themes of turmoil and doubt it had raised in its development. As for the Symphony no. 3 in C minor, was not completed by Elgar, but was reconstructed by Anthony Payne on the sketches left by the composer. This changes the portrait of Elgar prevailed so far, that of a composer finished after his wife’s death, and instead gives a glimpse of a rebirth.
It seems to me that this situation influenced also Colin Davis’s recording, which begins with the brilliant, optimistic first symphony, of which both the spirit and the orchestral colours are stressed with great precision, turns off slightly in the second, as if the conductor had not faith in it, and becomes interesting again in the third, which has great strength and intensity. As for the London Symphony Orchestra, it plays beautifully and with great harmony.