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Elgar: Symphony No. 1; Cockaigne (In London Town) Overture / Sakari Oramo

Album Summary

>Elgar, Edward : Symphony no 1 in A flat major, Op. 55
>Elgar, Edward : Cockaigne Overture, Op. 40 "In London Town"
Conductor Ensembles Composer

Notes & Reviews:

It was during the winter of 1900 - 01 that Elgar began to sketch what he hoped would turn into a symphony - his first. But the sketches were quickly absorbed into several shorter pieces, one of which was the Cockaigne overture. Although composed in the rural area of the Malvern Hills, the work is nevertheless an unashamedly populist portrait of 'old London town', complete with references to whistling errand boys and a marching band - the composer himself described the music as 'cheerful and Londony'. As for the First Symphony, seven years would pass before its première in Manchester and subsequent London performance - a triumphant occasion, as described by Elgar's publisher: 'After the first movement E.E. was called out; again, several times, after the third... people stood up and even on their seats to get a view.' For Elgar, the success must have come as an immense relief - the symphony is hugely ambitious in scale and scope, but also seems to have had a personal significance to the composer, who summarized it as follows: 'There is no program beyond a wide experience of human life, with a great charity (love) & a massive hope in the future.' Conducting this all-Elgar program is Sakari Oramo, the Finnish conductor who has been all but adopted by English music-lovers and orchestras - for ten years he was music director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, and since 2013 he holds the post as chief conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Playing here, however, as on the acclaimed 2013 release of Elgar's Second Symphony, is his 'Swedish orchestra', the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra. But lovers of Elgar's music can rest assured: in the words of the reviewer on the British web site classicalsource.com 'there is no need to be concerned that a Finnish conductor and a Swedish orchestra do not "get" Elgar's music. They do - with power, passion, compassion and authority... '

BBC Music Magazine, November 2014
Oramo has secured a vibrant, electric orchestral sound that underpins everything, making even the slow introduction seem exuberant underneath its finely judged nobilmente breadth...The orchestra offers similarly big-hearted, vital playing in Cockaigne. The opening theme kicks up its heels cheekily.

Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014
Oramo's commendably trim and purposeful conception is clearly the result of painstaking preparation and he certainly knows his way round the score; scarcely a fleck of detail escapes his eagle eye, and the antiphonally divided fiddles are an enormous boon...Oramo's reading of the main work has enough in the tank to merit investigation by any Elgarian seeking a fresh view.

MusicWeb International, 1st July 2014
Oramo uses a lot of rubato in the scherzo and at times you can feel it lurching into a slower gear with a sudden clunk. It's like being in the car with someone who is learning how to use the clutch...That's my only complaint about a performance which is outstanding all the way through...A First Symphony that only just misses perfection.

Sunday Times, 3rd August 2014
There's nothing portentous about the performance: take the athleticism demanded of the band by Oramo in the Scherzo - full of bright, good-natured humour - and the dashing final Allegro. It's good news that non-Brits can respond to this music with such affection and authenticity.

The Guardian, 31st July 2014
It's a finely judged and paced performance, one that avoids extremes but still manages to give a tremendous sense of cumulative momentum to the whole work...Oramo has always obtained a wonderfully refined string tone from the orchestras he conducts, and the hushed playing of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic...is strikingly effective.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Stockholm Concert Hall, Sweden.



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Works Details

>Elgar, Edward : Symphony no 1 in A flat major, Op. 55
  • Conductor: Sakari Oramo
  • Ensemble: Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Running Time: 52 min. 33 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 1907-1908

>Elgar, Edward : Cockaigne Overture, Op. 40 "In London Town"
  • Conductor: Sakari Oramo
  • Running Time: 14 min. 42 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 1900-1901