Liszt redistributes virtually all of Beethoven's original harmonies in keyboard terms, then Cyprien Katsaris syphons them through his own orchestral imagination. It's an astonishing achievement.
The "lighter" Elgar? Mostly, I suppose - although the achingly beautiful Romance for bassoon and orchestra casts recognisable side-glances at the contemporaneous Second Symphony and Violin Concerto. Elgar's miniaturist imagination took its furthest flights when lingering among his bigger works, though no one with an ear for a good tune would willingly forgo, say, the Organ Grinder's songs from The Starlight Express (sung here with manly confidence by baritone Frederick Harvey), Mina (Elgar's last completed orchestral work) or the "ancient and modern" contrasts in the third of the "Three Characteristic Pieces" - a one-time morning call on Radio 3.
Just under half of the programme is conducted by the veteran Lawrance Collingwood, a fine musician who - back in January 1934 - conducted music from Elgar's Caractacus while the dying composer supervised the session from the other end of a land-line. Collingwood is responsible for the best-known goodies: Chanson de matin, Salut d'amour and Dream Children. Turn then to Sir Neville Marriner's able Northern Sinfonia and you switch from heart-rendering affection to superior routine. It's a noticeable stylistic jolt, although the recordings are well matched and the programme as a whole - an extremely generous one, running to nearly 79 minutes - should give much pleasure.
The Lighter Elgar
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra / Lawrance Collingwood
Northern Sinfonia Orchestra / Sir Neville Marriner
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