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Discussion: Elgar: Symphony No. 1 - Brabbins

Posts: 15
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Post by Peter December 1, 2007 (1 of 15)
John, many thanks for your review. This one will have to go on my wish list!

However, I note it has already achieved a "not recommended" status. It would be more helpful to have an idea about what whoever posted that didn't care for about this release.

Peter

Post by Arthur December 1, 2007 (2 of 15)
John:

I second Peter's note of thanks. I already owned the Hickox and was skeptical about the Flemish orchestra, but your review has removed my doubts. Thanks!

Bret

Post by diw December 1, 2007 (3 of 15)
wondering if this disc has the same 'dynamic range' issues that the Firebird Glossa disc had. That disc was unlistenable for me.

Post by Geohominid December 1, 2007 (4 of 15)
diw said:

wondering if this disc has the same 'dynamic range' issues that the Firebird Glossa disc had. That disc was unlistenable for me.

Hi,
I had no problem with the wide dynamic range of the Elgar Glossa recording. At the start of the symphony, the soft drum rolls supported by the basses were clearly registered at the higher volume I set and the climaxes expanded thrillingly with no strain from my amps. However, I did note that the opening drum rolls of the Hickox on Chandos were significantly quieter in relation to its overall dynamic range and much more difficult to hear clearly around my normal volume setting, so that I was tempted to raise the volume, resulting in somewhat overbearing climaxes within the closer recording, which I cured by lowering the volume a few notches. Some of this dynamic range depends on your listening room size and acoustics as well as the ambient noise level of one's room (not to mention varying frequency sensitivity of people's auditory systems!). Sorry I don't have the Firebird for direct comparison, but I hope this helps.
Cheers, John

Post by Geohominid December 1, 2007 (5 of 15)
Peter said:

John, many thanks for your review. This one will have to go on my wish list!

However, I note it has already achieved a "not recommended" status. It would be more helpful to have an idea about what whoever posted that didn't care for about this release.

Peter

Hi Peter,
I hadn't spotted a posting where the Brabbins was 'not recommended' - can you point me to it? Elgar fans are a passionate lot, we tend to hang on to our favourites and are sometimes fazed by an approach which differs from so called 'tradition', and of course it is all about personal taste. I spent a fascinating four days listening to and comparing the Elgar Firsts that I have at hand, and it was a very illuminating and rewarding experience - if leaving me a little punch drunk and with the music running through my head continuously! All I can say is that as soon as I had heard the Brabbins for the first time I simply pressed play again. It gave me the same thrill and elation that I had the first time I heard it at the Halle under Barbirolli, when it blew me away. It is rare in later life that we can recapture that peculiar pleasure and excitement of hearing a new piece of music that just connects directly with us. We might spend a lifetime's listening trying to recapture that. I realise that for some folk the Brabbins might seem like a travesty because they don't like the spacious recording or the sometimes pacier movements. But for me, it presses all the right buttons; the Hickox pressed fewer of them.

Cheers, John

Post by Jonty December 2, 2007 (6 of 15)
I clicked the not recommended button for this disc. Listening via my studio system of a Marantz SA15-S1 and Sennheisser 600 headphones with Stefan AudioArt cable in stereo. I find the sound too distant and muddily reverberant. It is a if the orchestra is at the far end of a cathedral and the brass sound is on the thin side.

Performance wise Brabbins ,whom I usually admire, lacks the purposeful tread of say Handley. Boult and so on. He is far too eager to ease back in the first movement. The scherzo goes well but the articulation is muddied by the acoustic. The Kingdom Prelude seems by far the best bit of the disc.

It may be that the surround sound layer is much clearer and gives a fairer insight into the performance but this is not a disc for me.

Post by aoqd22 December 5, 2007 (7 of 15)
I have happily lived with the BBC PO/Hurst recording on Naxos ever since it came out over 10 years ago. This new recording will not be taking its place on my shelves. Performance wise it is better than expected but I think the BBC PO playing is overall of a higher standard. As far as the recording is concerned the impression I get of this new disc is that someone elected to add reverb which has destroyed clarity. Had me thinking of the recording Norman del Mar made of the Enigma Variations that came out on Polydor many moons ago!

As I write this posting I am listening to Arnaldo Cohen playing Liszt on BIS SACD 1530 - a combination of performance and recording that is in a different league all together!

Post by Peter September 14, 2008 (8 of 15)
The reason why Norman del Mar's recording is reverberant is due to its being recorded in Guildford Cathedral.

Post by Peter September 14, 2008 (9 of 15)
diw said:

"I am trying to fill in some gaps and am not crazy about the Chandos. Miller gives this a glowing review but only 1 out of 4 recommended it! Why?

I tried the Firebird from Glossa, and like many, found the dynamic range to be so extreme as to make the recording unlistenable in a practical sense (with 5 full range speakers). Is that true of this recording also? I would like to try another Glossa recording (also the forthcoming Handel disc) but would pass if it is like the Firebird."



Peter replied:

I'd recommend this newish Elgar 1 from Glossa with provisos. The first movement isn't as successfully done as the remainder - it doesn't "gel" for me. The other movements are very well done; however, although the orchestra plays with commitment, it's no LPO, LSO or Philharmonia, who have plenty of recordings in the catalogue. Hickox's is as good if not better.

However, Brabbins is a fine conductor, which he shows here particularly in the last movement.

Peter

Post by diw June 6, 2013 (10 of 15)
It is hard to imagine 2 more differing reviews on a single disc! I am wondering whether to get the Hickox or Brabbins. Or will another Elgar 1 be released on a different label to take their place?

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