Elgar: Enigma Variations/Vaughan Williams: The Wasps, Greensleeves
Michael Stern, conductor
Kansas City Symphony
Elgar and Vaughan Williams
A Magnificent New Symphonic Recording!
A new symphonic tour-de-force from the Kansas City Symphony! This colorful, beloved English music has been captured in brilliant HDCD sound by GRAMMY®-winning engineer Keith O. Johnson.
The Kansas City Symphony garnered tremendous critical acclaim for their first project on Reference Recordings, incidental music for The Tempest by Sullivan and Sibelius (Shakespeare’s Tempest, RR-115). Their second release on RR, Britten’s Orchestra, received a GRAMMY for Best Surround Sound for both the engineer and producer, as well as rave reviews everywhere! (Britten’s Orchestra, RR-120 is now unfortunately out of print).
We are thrilled to work again with Conductor Michael Stern, the son of famed violinist Isaac Stern. Now in his eighth season as music director, the Kansas City Symphony has been much praised for its remarkable artistic growth and development since his tenure began. He is also the founder of the Iris Chamber Orchestra in Memphis, Tennessee, and in addition to RR, has recorded for Sony, Hyperion, Denon, Arabesque and Naxos.
Producer David Frost has won Grammy awards in 2005, 2009 and 2011 for Classical Producer of the Year. He has produced a large roster of stars and Grammy-winning titles. We are most honored to work with him again on this project.
On This Recording
RALPH VAUGHAN WILLIAMS
The Wasps—Aristophanic Suite:
- Entr'acte, molto moderato
- March Past of the Kitchen Utensils
- Entr'acte, andante
- Ballet and Final Tableau
- Fantasia on "Greensleeves" (pub. Oxford University Press, U.K.) SIR EDWARD ELGAR Variations on an Original Theme: "Enigma," Op. 36
- Variation I (L'istesso tempo) 'C.A.E.'
- Variation II (Allegro) 'H.D.S-P.'
- Variation III (Allegretto) 'R.B.T.'
- Variation IV (Allegro di molto) 'W.M.B.'
- Variation V (Moderato) 'R.P.A.'
- Variation VI (Andantino) 'Ysobel'
- Variation VII (Presto) 'Troyte'
- Variation VIII (Allegretto) 'W.N.'
- Variation IX (Adagio) 'Nimrod'
- Variation X (Intermezzo: Allegretto) 'Dorabella'
- Variation XI (Allegro di molto) 'G.R.S.'
- Variation XII (Andante) 'B.G.N.'
- Variation XIII (Romanza: Moderato) ' * * * '
- Variation XIV (Finale: Allegro) 'E.D.U.'
“The Wasps makes a dashing curtain-raiser – and what a treat to hear the other irresistible numbers in Vaughan Williams's inimitably titled 'Aristophanic Suite'. Stern also masterminds a commendably sensitive, scrupulously prepared traversal of Elgar's vernally fresh masterpiece… the engineering, which is of simply splendiferous, demonstration-worthy realism… Recommended if…you feel like giving your hi-fi components a thorough work-out. —Andrew Achenbach Classical Ear “…this writer was so impressed by the performance and sound quality of this cherishable disc in its CD version that I contacted Reference Recordings with my one caveat: that the disc was not afforded the company’s inestimable SACD spruce-up. And here, after some delay, is the answer to my wish, proving to be quite as remarkable as one might expect: just try the overture to Vaughan Williams’ The Wasps or the finale to the Enigma Variations to see what the SACD medium is capable of in the hands of a company that is fully aware of its capabilities.” —Barry Forshaw, Classical CD Choice “This is a most enjoyable disc. I don’t think anyone buying it will be disappointed by the performances and they certainly won’t be disappointed by the engineering. These recordings evidence a fine partnership between Michael Stern and his orchestra. I said at the start that this is my first encounter with the Kansas City Symphony – as, indeed, it was with Michael Stern; I hope it won’t be the last.” —John Quinn, MusicWeb International “…this 200-gram Mastercut album is sure to impress listeners even if they own a less than super-high-end turntable system.” —John Sunier, Audiophile Audition “Stern offers a striking performance, its many memorable details enriched by the sound engineering. … these Enigma Variations are well worth hearing, especially as realized by RR's engineering. Surely few listeners will fail to be thrilled by the final bars, with organ capping the thunderous conclusion of the piece.” — Joe Milicia, EnjoytheMusic “This is an exceptional disc in so many ways. The Kansas orchestral playing is flamboyant, assured, but always affectionate, and the recorded sound is possibly the most realistic I’ve come across. The engineering really does serve the music, lending additional colour and warmth to Michael Stern’s Enigma Variations. His reading is full of character, managing to make the piece seem far more than a string of miniatures...Praising this CD for its outstanding technical qualities shouldn’t detract from some remarkable musical ones too. This is already in my end-of-year Top 10 list.” — Graham Rickson, ArtsDesk “...the Kansas City Symphony sets its sights on another with a second all-English concert for multiple Grammy-winner Reference Recordings, featuring a revelatory Enigma Variations. From the outset, Michael Stern and his world-class band bypass the riddle by treating the theme with such spare, noble sentiment that the music takes on a transcendent air that honours the deep personal connections Elgar felt for the subjects of his variations ... For audiophiles, not only is the recording full of demonstration passages but the way Stern keeps stretching the climaxes such as the ones in 'Troyte' will show just how much a system will take. It's one of those satisfying instances where the recording engineers have caught perfectly the sound and sense of being there...with the sheer presence and weight that real sound possesses.” —Laurence Vittes, Gramophone