Elgar: Marches / Judd, New Zealand Symphony Orchestra

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Nearly 80 minutes of Elgar in march tempo many be a bit much at a single sitting, but this disc fills a useful niche. The most interesting work here is the symphonic prelude Polonia, dedicated to Paderewski, and composed during the First World War. Making use of various Polish melodies (including music by Paderewski and Chopin), at nearly fifteen minutes it's a major statement for a mere "occasional" work, and the only reason I can think of that it isn't better known is that it's not about England so no one especially cares. James Judd and the New Zealand Symphony play it very well, as they also do the Pomp and Circumstances Marches. Frankly, you can have your Boults and Barbirollis: compared to Judd they sound far less involved. He actually has interesting ideas about phrasing (listen to how he drives the opening of March No. 2), and makes a persuasive case for this music as music, rather than as a high school graduation exercise or some other mundane event.

The Coronation March and the Funeral March from Grania and Diarmid are also bigger than their titles might suggest, the first as reflective as it is opulent, the second really a brief, elegiac tone poem. It's a bit hard to get excited about either the Empire March or the March from Caractacus, and the March of the Mogul Emperors (from The Crown of India Suite) could crash and bash with more abandon (where is the tam-tam?), but there's certainly enough here to whet the appetite of committed Elgarians. The sonics are also quite good: a touch low-level, perhaps, but easily adjustable, with plenty of room to expand and good bass separation between timpani, bass drum, and organ pedals (which are well caught but not overbearing). In short, this is another successful collaboration between Judd and the New Zealanders--long may they continue.
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com

Product Description:

  • Catalog Number: 8557273

  • UPC: 747313227327

  • Label: Naxos

  • Composer: Sir Edward Elgar

  • Conductor: James Judd

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: New Zealand Symphony Orchestra