Whilst this recording was being made in 1962, the BBC was preparing a film documentary on the life of Elgar to mark the 100th edition of its arts programme Monitor. Produced by Humphrey Burton and directed by the late Ken Russell, Elgar was first broadcast on 11 November 1962 and became one of the most popular films of its kind ever shown on TV, and contributed to a marked revival of interest in the composer's music. A still from the film is used on the sleeve.
According to the copy on the front cover advertisement of the album in the November 1962 GRAMOPHONE, Sir John Barbirolli was "a personal friend of the composer" and it is true, having been a cellist in the orchestra at the premiere of Elgar's Cello Concerto in 1919, he enjoyed a close rapport with the composer, winning his praise for his performances of the Introduction and Allegro for Strings and Second Symphony and becoming a great interpreter of Elgar's music.
"It is an absolutely outstanding performance, captured by the recording people as near to perfection as possible. I have never before heard so much beautiful detail so clearly, something obviously brought about by Barbirolli's care in the first place and by the care of HMV's [EMI's] experts in the second. The bass is particularly strong and nothing that happens of interest down below in the 'cellos and bases is missed. But, indeed, the whole orchestral balance is first rate." He liked the performance too: "I must turn to Barbirolli and the really wonderful playing of the Philharmonia Orchestra in both works. Performances are, as one expects from Sir John, right from the heart, yet they are always guided by the head..." and concludes "Even those who have this music on their shelves already should not miss this superb record." -Grammophone
Cut at Abbey Road Studios from the original stereo analogue master tapes with the Neumann VMS82 lathe fed an analogue pre-cut signal from a specially adapted Studer A80 tape deck with additional advance playback head, making the cut a totally analogue process.
Pressed on 180g vinyl to audiophile standards using the original EMI presses by The Vinyl Factory in Hayes, England.
Hi-Q Records Supercuts 180g Vinyl
Cut at Abbey Road Studios from the original EMI stereo analogue master tapes
Superior Audiophile Pressing
Features original album artwork
Made in England
John Barbirolli, conductor
Edward Elgar (1857-1934)
1. Variations on an Original Theme 'Enigma' Op.36 (Variations I-XIII)
1. Variations on an Original Theme 'Enigma' Op.36 (Cont.) (Variation XIV - Finale)
2. Cockaigne (In London Town) - Concert Overture Op.40