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Malcolm Hayes
BBC Music Magazine, May 2017

Listeners reluctant to approach a historical document dating from 1926 can be reassured: the remastered recorded sound is excellent, with decent tonal and dynamic range and minimal hiss. While the subtler orchestral effects can’t always be made out, the energy and directness of Elgar’s conducting come across in fine style. The strings’ portamento sliding between notes, then a standard device, is now less familiar, but Elgar also deploys less rubato tempo-bending than most of today’s conductors. Special moments include the whimsical string lines in ‘W.N.’ (Winifred Norbury) and a forthright choice of tempo for ‘Nimrod’. Elgar’s way with his concluding self-protrait, ‘E.D.U.’, must be the most viscerally exciting ever recorded. © 2017 BBC Music Magazine

Penguin Guide, January 2009

Naxos are beginning to issue Elgar’s own classic recordings on their label. Luckily, the transfers are good; they are warm and with less surface noise, but this may not be to all tastes (transfers of 78s are always a controversial matter). However, at bargain price, no one should hesitate. The novelty on this CD is a highly controversial ‘accidental stereo’ excerpt of the Cockaigne Overture, much talked about in 78-r.p.m. circles. The apparent stereo seems to have been made possible because, as was normal in recordings of this time, two turntables would be running during the cutting of the wax recording master discs, usually fed from the same microphone. Sometimes, as appears to be the case here, two separate microphones were used and (to cut a long story short) were in effect left and right channels. When synchronized together, they give a crude but discernible stereo effect. The producer of this CD, Mark Obert-Thorn, who has written a fascinating note included in the booklet, has made a superb job of this process. It undoubtedly adds another dimension to Elgar’s recorded legacy.

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