There’s no shortage of first-rate recordings of the majestic Second, but few have been as beautifully burnished as Richard Hickox’s account, captured with customary brilliance on this SACD
From the irresistible sweep and splendour of In the South – Elgar’s exuberant tribute to Richard Strauss – to the wonderfully satisfying account of the Second Symphony’s finale, this disc has given me such pleasure that I am loath to find any fault with it. But the pacing of the Symphony’s famous opening seems to me simply too rushed – quicker than Elgar’s precise markings – for the densely intricate textures to register. The rest is a delight. Under Hickox’s direction, the BBC National Orchestra of Wales respond to the music with a freshness, panache, expressiveness and ‘joie de vivre’ that are captivating.
The Sunday Times
Even on conventional CD playback this is an unusually transparent recording, and the SACD layer further lightens and clarifies Elgar’s textures, a welcome bonus in this often heavily scored symphony. The performance itself is consistently impressive. At its heart is a grave, sensitive account of the slow movement, expertly charted by Richard Hickox from its mournful, trudging origins in the underbelly of the orchestra to the pained searingly nostalgic final climax.
BBC Music Magazine
Elgar’s Second Symphony blossoms in the hands of Richard Hickox and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Classic FM Magazine ‘Disc of the Month’
The singing of the London Symphony Chorus on the Chandos disc is first rate, as is the orchestral playing… Hickox’s singers carry the day.
Gramophone on CHAN 8875/ (The Apostles)
Richard Hickox’s studio recording certainly deserves a place in that select band. The Chandos sound is glorious and the orchestral playing first rate – on form the BBC National Orchestra of Wales is a match for any of the corporation’s other orchestras around the country – and Hickox’s performance has the sense of carefully moulded ebb and flow that the Second Symphony requires.
You couldn’t ask for more professional forces than these under Hickox and together they make a strong case for this oratorio as an admirable piece in its own right, as well as a fascinating forerunner of The Dream of Gerontius and The Apostles.
BBC Music Magazine on CHAN 9208 (The Light of Life)
Richard Hickox and his combined London Symphony forces are dab hands at this kind of fare and their performance has great bloom and spaciousness…
Gramophone ‘Classical Good CD Guide’on CHAN 9435 (The Black Knight)