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Jerry Dubins
Fanfare, September 2012

Boult’s Brahms at the Proms is not at all what I would have expected…the performance…is quite powerful. Boult’s conception of the score is quite dramatic, and in passages of volcanic upheaval it can be decidedly eruptive. The stereo sound is excellent…This is a very appealing performance of Brahms’s most enigmatic symphony, and the one that I’ve always believed is the most difficult to bring off.

Expectations are confounded by Boult’s Elgar. Here I would have anticipated a more naturally flowing, fluent, and idiomatically English reading from the conductor than the one we get. Instead, Boult imperils the score by ignoring the composer’s semplice qualifier. The result is a ponderous opening more ceremonious than ceremonial. Boult somehow turns this magnificent, stately affair into something pretentious and pompous. I was really quite surprised.

In any case, the BBC Symphony Orchestra plays its heart out for him, and the recording captures the wide dynamic range of the score while managing to untangle its complex multilayered strands.

Clearly, this is recommended to all Boult fans and, I’d venture, to anyone wanting really excellent live recordings of these two works. © 2012 Fanfare Read complete review




Andrew Achenbach
Gramophone, August 2012

…Boult’s July 1976 account of Elgar’s First Symphony…simply demands to be experienced. With the BBC SO playing their hearts out for their distinguished founder, this is a traversal of towering perception, possessing an edge-of-seat thrust, entrancing wholeness of vision and extraordinary emotional candour not quite equalled by any of Sir Adrian’s three commercial recordings. Indeed, the sense of joyous homecoming in the closing pages is truly overwhelming in its cumulative impact and rightly accorded a thunderous ovation.

There’s much that is cherishable, too, in the performance of Brahms’s Third that these same artists gave the following season. Again, Boult’s contribution evinces a sureness of purpose, unassuming honesty and lofty wisdom that stem from a lifetime’s experience on the podium (the finale builds unerringly to a sublimely radiant apotheosis), and he draws playing from his former charges that is as glowingly committed as it is attentive (the Andante glides along to disarmingly songful and tender effect). Absolutely not to be missed. © 2012 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone



Brian Wilson Download Roundup
MusicWeb International, March 2012

At first I thought that I was about to be disappointed by the easy-going opening of the first movement of the Brahms—indeed, by the tempo pretty well throughout that movement. This is a gemütlich Brahms, far removed from the craggy Brahms of Klemperer, whose recordings of the Third and Fourth are still my benchmarks for those works; Boult makes him sound more like the affable coffee drinker of the drawing by Batt which was included in the original Oxford Companion to Music.

I still hanker after Klemperer’s Brahms but this smoother Boult recording will be more to some people’s tastes especially as there was a traceable line of tradition from composer to conductor—something even more true, of course, of Elgar and Boult. Though he recorded the Elgar First many times, this performance has a vitality which I find lacking in his Lyrita recording made the same year. The urgency which I missed in the first movement of his Brahms is there in abundance in the first movement of the Elgar.

The BBC live recordings are not ideal but they are good enough to convey the sense of occasion in both cases. The audience is pretty unobtrusive, especially by Prom Concert standards. © 2012 MusicWeb International






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