The Sydney Symphony’s current Master Series concert was book-ended by nobility. Sir Edward Elgar’s orchestration of JS Bach’s Fantasia and Fugue in C minor, BWV 537 began the concert. Leopold Stokowski’s orchestration of Bach’s organ pieces glamourised them, by transforming them from, as it were, austere Lutheran pews into well-stuffed Edwardian Chesterfield sofas: Elgar’s treatment ennobled them while never diminishing their spirituality. This was a stirring opening to the concert and was well played, except at the culmination where the sound became slightly muddy, (at least in Row X of the stalls), due mainly, I suspect, to the Concert Hall’s acoustics.

Lukáš Vondráček

The second half of the evening was filled with Elgar’s Symphony No 2 in E Flat. The score bears the motto: “Rarely, rarely, comest thou, Spirit of Delight” from Shelley’s Invocation.Few of Elgar’s works convey more dramatically his emotional ambivalence; by the time of this work’s completion, Elgar was a national figure: he had garnered four honorary Mus.Ds, three LL.Ds, and around the time of its premiere, the Order of Merit. (He later declined a peerage.) Despite these worldly trappings, he was no jingoist and his two symphonies,...