Friday, December 08, 2006

CD REVIEW: Britten/Elgar

By Tim Ashley
The [London] Guardian, December 8, 2006

4 out of 5 stars

On the surface, Paavo Jarvi's decision to place Britten's Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra alongside Elgar's Enigma Variations seems idiosyncratic. In some respects, however, the coupling makes perfect sense: so much has been made of the educational intentions of The Young Person's Guide that we need to be reminded, on occasion, that first and foremost it's a set of orchestral variations that almost rivals Elgar's both in quality and emotional range. Phenomenally played by the Cincinnati Symphony, it suits Jarvi's high-voltage style slightly better than the Enigma, though the latter is mercifully free from connotations of sentimentality and English triumphalism, with a particularly serene account of Nimrod and moments of acerbic wit as well as deep affection elsewhere. The two sets of variations flank an exceptionally fine performance of the Four Sea Interludes from "Peter Grimes" - played, unusually, as a continuous whole, and inexorably tragic in their impact.

No comments: