Barbirolli does Elgar, Walton, & Britten

Review by: David Hurwitz

Artistic Quality: 6

Sound Quality: 4

The late John Barbirolli was a wonderful conductor, particularly of Elgar, and this performance of In the South, recorded in 1970, has all of the passion and spontaneity for which he was famous. Unfortunately, the rest of the material on this very well filled disc is less than recommendable. Walton’s Partita calls for extremes of virtuosity that are utterly beyond Hallé Orchestra of 1969. The performance is simply a mess, particularly in the opening movement. Britten’s Sinfonia da Requiem fares somewhat better, but Barbirolli offers no particular insight into the music that can’t be had in performances by numerous other conductors, from Previn to Hickox to the composer himself, in much better sound. Finally, The Young Person’s Guide, which dates from 1967, is a mono air-check featuring the BBC Symphony Orchestra that sounds as though it dates from 1947. In short, the only winner here is the Elgar, and while fans of the composer or the conductor may want this disc regardless, for others it’s a pretty steep investment.

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Recording Details:

EDWARD ELGAR - In the South
BENJAMIN BRITTEN - Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra; Sinfonia da Requiem

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