- In the South ("Alassio"), concert overture for orchestra, Op. 50
- Introduction and Allegro, for string quartet & string orchestra in G major, Op. 47
- Sospiri, adagio for strings, harp & organ, Op. 70
- Enigma Variations, for orchestra, Op. 36
This is not the Vienna Philharmonic's first recording of Elgar's music -- Georg Solti in his later years recorded the Enigma Variations (Decca) with them -- but how refreshing it is to hear the VPO play it again. The sweetness and suavity of their sound is something special; they give a virtuosic account of the concert overture In the South, but it is their beautifully refined playing of the nostalgic central interlude that sticks in the memory. The Introduction and Allegro shows off the exquisite tone of the orchestra's strings -- as beautiful in an incisive forte as in the most feathery pianissimo. Sospiri is atmospheric, certainly, yet it lacks that tinge of anguish that distinguishes Barbirolli's version (EMI). And while Gardiner understates the first few of the Enigma Variations, the interpretation soon catches fire and becomes quite gripping. The finale is exceptionally fine. All in all, then, this is a sonic feast with plenty of real, red-blooded Elgarian feeling.