- Symphony No. 6 in E minor
- Enigma Variations, for orchestra, Op. 36
Colin Davis, a self-proclaimed unpretentious conductor, took the helm of Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundunks in 1983, succeeding Rafael Kubelik and the tragically deceased Kirill Kondrashin. This BR Klassik album features a recording of Elgar's "Enigma Variations" made in the same year Davis took over the orchestra, demonstrating from the get-go the conductor's broadening of the orchestra's repertoire to include English composers and others. Even though Davis had only just begun working with the orchestra, his insistence on precision and the eventual transformation that it brought to the orchestra can already be heard. Davis draws out a remarkable warmth from the strings and a simple clarity from the winds. He allows the music to speak for itself rather than imposing unnecessary emotional emphasis. The result is a thoroughly moving, passionate reading of "Enigma." Jump ahead four years to 1987 and Davis' work with the orchestra is truly apparent in their recording of the Vaughan Williams "Symphony No. 6." The sometimes aggressive symphony is executed with the utmost precision, brilliant dynamic contrasts, and unfettered control of tempo. As either an introduction to these two great English works or to Davis' early work with Rundfunks, this album is an exceptional choice.