The collaboration between BIS and the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra (RSPO) began some 30 years ago, and has resulted in a number of discs conducted by such distinguished musicians as Antal Doráti, Yuri Ahronovitch and Alan Gilbert, all past chief conductors of the orchestra. As the present principal conductor, Sakari Oramo now conducts the RSPO on a BIS recording, he has chosen works by Edward Elgar, a composer whose music he has been a fervent advocate of since his tenure at the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. In particular he is fascinated by Elgar’s orchestration technique: ‘Elgar's orchestrations breathe, reflect and ripple, transporting the music in majestic waves unlike anybody else’s. He applied his technique as precisely as Richard Strauss, but also allowed himself to be carried away, to feel every colour and shade.’ Sakari Oramo’s commitment to Elgar has been rewarded by a medal from the British Elgar Society, and his interpretations have met with great acclaim in the composer’s own country. The main work on the present disc is the Second Symphony – a darkly hued, powerful work lasting almost an hour. The composer apparently planned to dedicate it to King Edward VII as ‘a loyal tribute’, but the monarch’s sudden death in May 1910, led to the symphony being inscribed instead to his memory. Composed during the same years as the symphony, the two companion pieces on the disc also have a melancholy tinge: Elegy for strings, and Sospiri (‘sighs’) for strings, harp and organ.
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