Elgar & Vaughan Williams: Kansas City Symphony/Michael Stern

An all-American performance of some British classics. Drive Featured Album, 21 January 2013.

Fans of these two key players in the British music sphere will not be disappointed. Every nuance of Elgar's very particular dynamic markings is captured in this recording from the Kansas City Symphony, conducted by Michael Stern. The strings' shimmering vibrato, too, brings Vaughan Williams' Fantasia on 'Greensleeves' to life, with an orchestral sound so crisp that it's easy to be mentally transported directly to the concert hall.

Although the album features some of the composers' less famous repertoire, it's hard not to be impressed by the fresh new recording of the 'Enigma' Variations. Recordings of 'Nimrod', the ninth variation in the set, are so often overused at moments of pathos in adverts and films, but this modest version is remarkably refreshing. And there are certainly gems to be found in the remaining 13 parts - listen to Variation 12 for some suitably heart-wrenching cello tunes, or the second variation for some unexpectedly spiky woodwind moments.

Showing the best of both sides of the Atlantic, this vibrant album is not to be missed.

Elgar