Recorded in Watford Town Hall, Herts - April 1980. Here is my Amazon review from 2002 (when the recording was still in print):
An EMI Classic,I find the Second's opening movement, to say the least, psychologically complex. It took me a while to get it; it inevitably grew on me over time. I can say the same for the symphony. I think it's for this reason that I keep coming back to listen. Certain orchestral works just wow you from the get-go. This brilliance of this symphony is that its power is subdued. The overall effect accrues in one's conscience over time. The orchestration ebbs to the surface subtly and gracefully. The slow movement (Larghetto) is one of Elgar's finest, along with the slow movement from the Violin Concerto. The wispy Rondo boasts some colorful woodwind detail. The strings play with variations on thematic elements from the opening movement. The finale makes a beautiful opening statement, builds in intensity, and fades to a breathtaking, quiet conclusion. The advantage of Handley's recording is the augmentation of the bass line with pipe organ pedals in the closing few minutes of the symphony. Overall, Handley's skill as a conductor of English music shines through quite well in this recording. I hope EMI keeps this one in print. Again, this is a recording you will return to with pleasure. Its power springs from its ebb and flow and the ultimate serenity that it conveys.
March 5, 2002
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I never get tired of this symphony. Nice front cover, I might add. For some reason in the past few years major record companies have opted to re-release older classical recordings with ugly covers. I don't get it.