Recording of March 1982: Elgar: Orchestral Works

82award.250pr.jpgElgar: Orchestral Works
Falstaff, The Sanguine Fan, Fantasia and Fugue in c (transcribed from J.S. Bach), excerpt from The Starlight Express
London Philharmonic Orchestra, Sir Adrian Boult
Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab 2-501 (half-speed–mastered LP, pressed in Japan, 1981). Originally released as HMV ASD 2970 (LP, 1974). Reissued as EMI CDM 7 63133 2 (CD, 1989). Christopher Bishop, prod.; Christopher Parker, Stuart Eltham, engs.

It's finally happened. Until now, every symphonic recording that has come along has been compromised to some extent by an indifferent performance or an imperfect recording, or (much more frequently) by both. It almost seemed as if the better the recording, the worse the musical performance (or vice versa). Now, for the first time in the history of symphonic recording, we have a musical performance that is never likely to be bettered, on a recording whose sound is so good that it doesn't leave enough room for improvement to make another recording of these works worth the effort. This is an absolute Must Buy for any audiophile who enjoys symphonic music, whether or not he has ever even heard of Sir Edward Elgar. The music is delicious and the recording is—well, just listen to it.

82award.250.jpgWe have never before bestowed an award on anyone for anything. We have never before given an award to a recording, because we've never found one worthy of it. We felt obliged to do it on Mobile Fidelity for their remastering of the EMI Elgar Falstaff recording because it is the first time to our knowledge that a single classical release has combined a performance and a recording which are both good enough that neither need be done again. Our congratulations to Mobile Fidelity's Gary Giorgi. Now, let's have some more, from Mobile Fidelity or any other source. We have more awards to hand out when and if.—J. Gordon Holt

Editor's Note: I have searched Stereophile's back-issue archive and it appears that J. Gordon Holt never wrote more about this outstanding Mobile Fidelity release. However, it was on my short list for our very first "Records To Die For" listing in 1991.—John Atkinson

John Atkinson's picture
With this review, we have now posted a "Recording of the Month" for every issue of Stereophile going back to Vol.5 No.1, Issue 47, the first to be published by Larry Archibald. See

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

hollowman's picture

I can't find much info on this recording.
Googling "Boult Falstaff EMI Elgar" does produce hits (mostly eBay) of the MFSL or the orig. EMI 1974 Lp.
But one also gets this Boult Falstaff LPO [Recording Date
October 3, 1949]:
There is a YouTube sample here from LPO's official channel:
Published on Sep 26, 2014
Provided to YouTube by Warner Music Group

Falstaff - Symphonic Study in C minor Op. 68 [with Elgar's divisions] (1989 Digital Remaster) : III. Falstaff's march... (fig. 81) · London Philharmonic Orchestra/Sir Adrian Boult

℗ 1974 The copyright in this sound recording is owned by EMI Records Ltd. Digital remastering (p) 1989 by EMI Records Ltd

Released on: 2005-11-25

Conductor: Sir Adrian Boult
Orchestra: London Philharmonic Orchestra
Producer: Christopher Bishop
Composer: Edward Elgar

On another note, Berlin PO and D. Barenboim
Barenboim isn't the greatest conductor, but May 2014 live session is a super, MODERN recording -- and you get to SEE+HEAR the performance!

hollowman's picture

I have this Falstaff ...

... and it's not bad.

Searching around on Allmusic, Discogs and Presto-classical,
I also found...

[Montreal Symphony Orchestra, Charles Dutoit]

... and ... the EMI/Elgar collection that seems to contain the EMI/MFSL recording from 1973:

I think the reissued EMI CDM 7 63133 2 (CD, 1989)
in the top post look like:

John Atkinson's picture
For the detective work, hollowman. I have the 1989 EMI Studio CD reissue as well as the MFSL LP.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

hollowman's picture

Found another EMI Falstaff:

Sir Edward Elgar (1857-1934):
Variations on an original theme ("Enigma"), op.36 *
"Falstaff": Symphonic study in C minor, op.68 +

Philharmonia Orchestra *
Hallé Orchestra +
Sir John Barbirolli - conductor

You can download the full album (FLAC + artwork/liner-notes scans), here:

The Barenboim/Berlin PO video, noted earlier, is also avail. as an HD stream from Berlin PO's exclusive pay-for service:

I wish David Zinman/Baltimore SO had done Falstaff. The Telarc/Zinman/Baltimore/Elgar recordings (late 80s/early 90s) are my reference (performance and recording):

Speaking of Elgar/Zinman/Baltimore SO...a YouTuber recently uploaded a Japan tour TV performance of the cello concerto (ca. 1990 with Yo Yo Ma):

Sound quality is mono and low-fi, but the performance is superb!