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The recording quality of this Elgar disc is superb. The BBC Symphony, caught at the Watford Colosseum, exudes a depth of sound that seems to elude them in live concerts at the Barbican.

Gardner is a superb Elgarian – the First Symphony, coupled with the Introduction and Allegro, has already been released. The long expanse of the first movement of the Second Symphony is gorgeous. Less overtly nodding to the German Romantic tradition than Barenboim in his recent Berlin Staatskapelle reading (the Richard Straussian horns of the second movement for example), this is a tremendous performance that breathes nobility and confidence. The volatility of the third movement Rondo balances the mystery of the finale.

The Serenade for Strings is the perfect complement, taking a lighter emotional toll, Gardner alive to the first movement’s rhythmic heartbeat. Melodies swell throughout just as they should, fresh as can be. A lovely performance.

COLIN CLARKE Read the full review on Agora Classica

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