Here are some of the recordings I have:
Richard Hickox has recorded much of Elgar's choral music on Chandos, so it
was natural for me to start with his recording of Gerontius. I am very happy
with it. All in all, it's a very fine recording, and I can recommend it very
much. The Parry couplings are also very good.
|Elgar: The Dream of Gerontius
etc. Decca 448 170-2, 2CD. More info. |
It was a dream come trough for me to discover that Britten had recorded
Gerontius in 1971. I like Britten very much, both as a composer and a
performer. He hasn't done much Elgar, but the little he has done, are very
good. Besides the Gerontius, he has also recorded Introduction and Allegro
(Decca 448 569-2, "English music for strings"). I have listened to
this very good recording several times, and I can recommend it very much. The
two couplings are also very good, with Hickox conducting Delius and Boult
conducting Holst. At mid price, this is a real bargain.
|Suites from "Starlight
express" and "King Arthur". Chandos Collect CHAN 6582, mid price
(my LP no. is CBR 1001). Soloists, Bournemouth sinfonietta, conducted by George
Hurst. Recorded in 1973 in analogue sound.|
Elgar's incidental music is not his most famous music, but that doesn't
mean its bad music. It's very good music, and these two suites are well worth
listening to. My favourite among these two are the Starlight express. It
includes both orchestral and vocal music, both of very high quality. I rank
this work among Elgar's best. This is a very nice recording, and the sound is
fine. At mid price, it's well worth exploring.
|Symphony no. 1 & Imperial
march. Naxos 8.550634, budget price. More info |
Naxos has done very well on this recording. It's actually the only Elgar
First I have heard (and have), but I have enjoyed it very much. The Imperial
march is also a very good, and I like it very much. I am very satisfied with
this recording, and I can recommend it very much.
|The Kingdom etc. Chandos CHAN 8788/9, 2CD, full price.
This is the second in Elgar's supposed trilogy of oratorios. As we know,
the third were never composed. The first one was The Apostles, and The Kingdom
is the second. Elgar was a devoted catholic, so it was natural for him to
compose religious works. This work is from 1906, when Elgar was at the height
of his fame. The Kingdom is a master piece, and very good listening. You can't
go wrong with this recording, and I can recommend it highly.
|The piano music of Ivor Gurney and Edward Elgar. Gamut GAM CD 516, full
price. Alan Gravill, piano. Recorded 1990 in digital sound.
Elgar is not very famous for his piano music, but the four Elgar works
featured on this CD shows that he could write for the piano too. The Concert
allegro is the only long work at 10:02 mins. The three others are short
works. My favourite is Adieu. It's a beautiful melody, and also very
singable. Almost like a song without words. I haven't listened much to the
Ivor Gurney music on this CD, but I am very satisfied with the
performance. If you would like to discover some new Elgar music, this is a
good place to begin.
|Violin concerto & Enigma. EMI CDM 5
66979 2, mid price. Mono. Menuhin/Elgar. More info|
This is the most classic Elgar recording in exsistence. The Violin
Concerto is from 1932 but the sound isn't that bad, all things considered.
Menuhin was only 16 when he recorded it. This concerto was dedicated to the
Austrian violinist Fritz Kreisler, but unfortunately he and Elgar never got
around to record it (mostly because of Kreisler). Chosing to record it with
Menuhin instead was a very good decision (by Fred Gaisberg). Elgar and
Menuhin got along very well, and Elgar became very impressed by this young
violinist. So much indeed that he added "and to Yehudi Menuhin" on
the dedication to this work. You really can't go wrong with this work.
The second work on this disc is Elgar's 1926 recording of the Enigma
Variations. The sound is less good than on the Concerto, but still acceptable.
It's a very good recording. Since Elgar himself is conducting, it makes it a
very special recording. I do recommend you to get a 2nd recording next to this
one though. It has nothing with the musical qualities, but it's because of the
sound. My advice is that if you have a modern recording, get this one too to
hear how the Master himself did it. If you only have this one, get a modern
recording so you can hear the music more clearly and with improved sound.
|Symphony no. 3. NMC D053, full price. More
"...The symphony all bits and pieces...no one would
understand it...no one...no one. Don't let any one tinker with
it...no one could understand... no one must tinker with it. I think
you had better burn it".
"If I can't complete it the Third Symphony, somebody will
complete it - or write a better one - in fifty or five hundred
years. Viewed from the point where I am now, on the brink of
eternity, that's a mere moment in time".
A photo of Anthony Payne
The first page of the Third Symphony
The completion of Elgar's Third Symphony has always been a most
controversial issue. That's why it has take such a long time for this to
happen. I am personally very happy about this. I really don't see what's wrong
with completing it. Elgar himself is not clear on this either. I have quouted
him on the top of this review to show what he had said about it. The first
quote is the most famous one and is the reason so many have objected to this
project. The "problem" is that Elgar also said the opposite, as in
quote no. 2.
Another issue regarding this symphony is that Elgar had completed
relatively little, compared to f.ex. what Mahler had left in his 10th
symphony. We didn't have a complete draft or sketch, which meant that it
needed to be made additional composing by the elaborator. Anthony Payne has
done a marvelous job working with Elgar's sketches. The composing he has done
himself has been done in the spirit of Elgar and not of Payne, so it's truly a
Elgar symphony we are listening to and not a Payne symphony in the style of
Elgar. I believe that this symphony in time will be as important as his two
The recording itself is very good. It's only naturally that it's a BBC
orchestra playing on this first recording since it was commissioned by the
BBC. You really have to get this CD.