Elgar: The Music Makers; Dream Children; Elegy; Sospiri; Sursum corda; Chanson de matin; Chanson de nuit; Salut d’amour

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Elgar
LABELS: Teldec
WORKS: The Music Makers; Dream Children; Elegy; Sospiri; Sursum corda; Chanson de matin; Chanson de nuit; Salut d’amour
PERFORMER: Jean Rigby (mezzo-soprano)BBC SO & Chorus/Andrew Davis
CATALOGUE NO: 4509-92374-2 DDD
There is much more to Elgar’s The Music Makers than merely a refashioning of material from earlier works, as repeated hearings show. True, it does not approach Gerontius, but there are many riches. For me, one of the most memorable and moving moments of any Elgar recording comes with the classic Boult version when Janet Baker sings ‘But on one man’s soul…’ to the ‘Nimrod’ theme from the Enigma Variations, which merges magically with that glorious descending figure heard in the coda of the Second Symphony’s finale. Rigby, whose voice sounds remarkably like Baker’s, lacks the same passion and authority. That is not to deny her expressive qualities nor her range. Davis draws inspired performances from the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus (the strings of the orchestra especially). However, in the final analysis, this performance is blemished, for me, by the excessively laboured final pages – far too mournful for the subject. This excessive sadness also afflicts Dream Children; I miss the child-like enchantment Boult brought to the Allegretto piacevole and the sensitivity of Del Mar’s Andante. But there is much to commend in the unusually enterprising programme, including a meltingly beautiful Sospiri and an arresting Sursum corda – all captured in splendid sound. Ian Lace

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