Elgar - Enigma Variations - Barbirolli - Philharmonia Orchestra on 180g Import LP from Hi-Q Records
Cut at Abbey Road Studios from the Original Stereo Analog Master Tapes
While this recording of Edward Elgar's Enigma Variations was being made in 1962, the BBC was preparing a film documentary on the life of the English composer to mark the 100th edition of its arts program Monitor. Produced by Humphrey Burton and directed by the late Ken Russell, Elgar was first broadcast on November 11, 1962 and became one of the most popular films of its kind ever shown on TV, and contributed to a marked revival of interest in the composer's music. A still from the film is used on the album's sleeve.
Sir John Barbirolli was a personal friend of Edward Elgar and having been a cellist in the orchestra at the premiere of his Cello Concerto in 1919, he enjoyed a close rapport with the composer, winning his praise for his performances of the Introduction and Allegro for Strings and Second Symphony and becoming a great interpreter of Elgar's music.
This excellent recording - captured on May 9 and August 27, 1962 at Kingsway Hall, London with legendary producer Victor Olof and engineer Harold Davidson - finds Barbirolli leading the Philharmonia Orchestra in sublime performances of the fourteen Enigma Variations as well as the concert overture Cockaigne (In London Town).
Pressed on 180g vinyl to audiophile standards using the original EMI presses by The Vinyl Factory in Hayes, England. Cut at Abbey Road Studios from the original stereo analogue master tapes with the Neumann VMS82 lathe fed an analogue pre-cut signal from a specially adapted Studer A80 tape deck with additional 'advance' playback head, making the cut a totally analog process. It also features the original album artwork.
"It is an absolutely outstanding performance, captured by the recording people as near to perfection as possible. I have never before heard so much beautiful detail so clearly, something obviously brought about by Barbirolli's care in the first place and by the care of HMV's [EMI's] experts in the second. The bass is particularly strong and nothing that happens of interest down below in the 'cellos and bases is missed. But, indeed, the whole orchestral balance is first rate.
"He liked the performance too: "I must turn to Barbirolli and the really wonderful playing of the Philharmonia Orchestra in both works. Performances are, as one expects from Sir John, right from the heart, yet they are always guided by the head..." and concludes "Even those who have this music on their shelves already should not miss this superb record." - Grammophone
Edward Elgar (composer)
John Barbirolli (conductor)
Elgar - Enigma Variations - Barbirolli - Philharmonia Orchestra Track Listing:
1. Edward Elgar - Variations on an Original Theme 'Enigma' Op.36 (Variations I-XIII)
2. Edward Elgar - Variations on an Original Theme 'Enigma' Op.36 (Cont.) (Variation XIV - Finale)
2. Edward Elgar - Cockaigne (In London Town) - Concert Overture Op.40