Paired here with Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending and his Tallis Fantasia are several big Elgars: the Introduction and Allegro and Serenade for Strings. A few of Elgar’s ‘pocket tunes’, Salut d’amour, Chanson de Matin and Chanson de Nuit make a welcome appearance. Plus, a novelty! The world premiere recording of Julian Milon’s arrangement of Elgar’s In Moonlight for solo viola (played by Zukerman), strings and harp. Along with Zukerman the Soloist we get Zukerman the Conductor. These days he is equally at home on the podium – in this case the one in front of the orchestra of which he is Principal Guest Conductor: the Royal Philharmonic.

Zukerman first recorded the Lark with the English Chamber Orchestra 40 years ago – not the chart-topper then that it is now. He did it as a favour to Barenboim in 1973 at short notice. A casual comparison of durations indicates a more leisurely approach today than on the 1973 ECO recording. The phrasing is uncluttered and fluid. 

The overwhelming gift of this disk (and especially this work) is Zukerman’s warmth of tone and organic pacing. He brings the intellect of a conductor to these familiar works – so often heard drenched in creamy indulgence. The second theme of Introduction and Allegro is arresting in it’s fragile tone quality while the sonic expanse of the Tallis Fantasia emanates transcendental awe.