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Penguin Guide, January 2009

It makes an ideal coupling on Naxos to have the two Wand of Youth Suites, using themes Elgar had written in boyhood for a family play, alongside his other two works inspired by childhood, Dream Children of 1902 and the Nursery Suite of 1930. The freshness of inspiration is a delight, superbly brought out in these fine performances from New Zealand, recorded in Wellington in full, well-balanced sound, with James Judd always an idiomatic Elgarian. The Wand of Youth Suites in particular range wonderfully wide in mood and invention, culminating in the most brilliant movement of all, The Wild Bears, an orchestral showpiece here given a spectacular performance.

Andrew Achenbach
Gramophone, May 2004

"...potential purchasers can rest assured that the disc offers first-class orchestral playing and (a trace of background hum aside) truthful sound throughout."

Martin Cotton
BBC Music Magazine, May 2004

"It was a bright idea to gather together Elgar's orchestral pieces for or about children on a single CD, and right from the bustle of the Overture to the first Wand of Youth Suite, it's clear that the orchestra, conductor and recording team are right on top of the music. ...Worth a fiver of anyone's money."

William Dart
The New Zealand Herald, April 2004

"James Judd is a proven Elgarian - his 1990 recording of the First Symphony with the Halle Orchestra is up there with the best. Now, with the NZSO, he is delving into Elgar's later career with the two Wand of Youth suites, thoughtful revisitings of childhood compositions, and the 1930 Nursery Suite, written for the young Windsor princesses during Elgar's retirement... this is graceful and affectionate music-making, with a tangible sense of the nostalgic. Of course you can't judge a CD by its cover, but it has extensive programme notes and striking cover illustrations."

Scott Cantrell
The Dallas Morning News

We tend to think of classical music as grown-up stuff, but from Schumann through Ravel and Britten there's quite a bit of concert fare for and about children. Elgar's suites of miniatures are as fine as any - charming, by turns dreamy and gently playful, and all exquisitely orchestrated. The two Wand of Youth suites were elaborated from pieces Elgar composed as a mere child. The Nursery Suite is a late work, composed in 1930 for the then-young British princesses Elizabeth, who went on to become queen, and Margaret. Whatever the ostensible intent, this is music to soothe the most harried adult, and British conductor James Judd coaxes deft, lilting performances. The capable New Zealand orchestra is realistically captured in spacious acoustics.

David Hurwitz

"A charming disc full of charming music, these light Elgar works seem to come and go in the catalog, undeservedly so. Like most great composers Elgar lavished as much care on his miniatures as he did on his large-scale productions, and some listeners may well prefer to enjoy his lyrical gifts and vivid orchestration in this easily digestible form. The performances are uniformly excellent, offering both lightness ("Fairy Pipers", "Little Bells", "The Merry Doll") and rambunctious high spirits ("The Wild Bears", "The Wagon (Passes)") where appropriate...The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra plays with obvious care and affection, and the recorded sound lives up to the current high standards coming from this source. The Judd/New Zealand partnership has given Naxos some of its best discs, and this one is no exception. 9/9"

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