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What a lovely idea to collate Elgar’s musical tributes to youth on one disc. Elder’s Elgar is one of the conductor’s many strengths, and he brings a light, often gossamer touch to the Hallé, an orchestra which under his guidance now plays like a dream.

The Wand of Youth Suites move from the impetuous to the gloriously warm- toned (‘Menuet (Old Style)’); and it is surely impossible not to fall under the spell of ‘Fairy Pipers’.

The caressingly blissful peace of ‘The Serious Doll’, blisteringly interrupted by the ferocity of ‘Busy-ness!’, gives an idea of the variety encountered in the Nursery Suite. Lyn Fletcher is a sweet-toned soloist in ‘Envoy’, the final movement, almost sounding like an excerpt from a cadenza before the long lines begin. The cosiness of Chanson de Nuit finishes off the disc nicely (Chanson de Matin is on the Hallé Enigma Variations album).

COLIN CLARKE Read the full review on Agora Classica


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