Elgar: Falstaff, Op 68; Songs, Op 59; Songs, Op 60; Two Movements from Grania and Diarmid; The Wind at Dawn; The Pipes of Pan; Pleading; The King’s Way; Kindly Do Not Smoke

Reviewed on Mon 12 Mar, 2018

Davis has the measure of Shakespeare’s vainglorious knight and of Elgar’s acutely nuanced score in a reading shot through with wit and wisdom, and a vivid sense of character and narrative.

Sir Andrew Davis’s long association with Elgar’s Falstaff bears ripe, thoroughly satisfying fruit here in his third recording of the work (his first appearing on LP in 1975, the most recent in 1998). There’s much to admire in a gloriously realised account full of pomp, pageantry and poignancy. Davis has the measure of Shakespeare’s vainglorious knight and of Elgar’s acutely nuanced score in a reading shot through with wit and wisdom, and a vivid sense of character and narrative. His ear for telling intimate detail and theatrical swagger is couched with obvious affection for the music’s many attractions, the BBC Philharmonic responding with characterful poetry. The two movements from Grania and Diarmid, full of fantasy and feeling, receive similarly top-notch treatment. Roderick Williams is on equally fine form in the collection of orchestral songs that complete the disc. If the quality of the material is uneven, the eloquence of his singing can’t be faulted.
–Michael Quinn