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Dream of Gerontius
Dream of Gerontius
Symphony no. 1
Elgar doing Elgar
Symphony no. 3
The Kingdom
Cello concerto
Violin Concerto
Violin Concerto
Chamber music
King Olaf
Symphony no. 2
Symphony no. 3
The Kingdom
symphony no. 2 & Crown of India
Piano music
Violin concertos
Live at the proms
Enigma variations
Violin concertos
Ken Russell's Elgar
The Apostles
Dream of Gerontius
Symphony no. 1
Sea pictures & The music makers
The Apostles
Solo piano music vol.1
Cello concerto
Halle Tradition
The symphonies
The lighter Elgar
The Light of Life
The Black Knight
Cello- & Violin concertos
Dream of Gerontius
Dream of Gerontius
Enigma & Falstaff
Symphony no. 1
Symphony no. 2
The symphonies
Piano concerto etc
Enigma variations
Violin concerto
Coronation ode

Here are some of the recordings I have:

bulletElgar: The Dream of Gerontius etc. More info.

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.

bulletElgar: 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.

bulletSuites 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.

bulletSymphony 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.

bulletThe Kingdom etc. Chandos CHAN 8788/9, 2CD, full price. More info

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.

bulletThe piano music of Ivor Gurney and Edward Elgar. Gamut GAM CD 516, full price. Alan Gravill, piano. Recorded 1990 in digital sound. More info

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.

bulletViolin 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.

bulletSymphony no. 3. NMC D053, full price. More info

"...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 other symponies.

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.

To come:

bulletThe Kingdom on RCA
bulletThe Cello concerto with Rolston on CBC
bulletChamber music on Naxos
bulletViolin Concerto on Naxos
bulletNigel Kennedy performing the Violin Concerto on EMI
bulletKing Olaf  & Black Knight on EMI
bulletSymphony no. 3 on Naxos
bulletSymphony no. 2, Serenade for strings and Elegy on Sony Essential classics
bulletViolin concerto and the Walton violin concerto with Heifetz on Naxos historical
bulletLive from the proms: Falstaff on BBC Music Magazine
bulletFalstaff and Elegy on Naxos
bulletEnigma variations, In the South and Coronation march on Naxos
bulletSymphony no. 2 and The Crown of India suite on Chandos
bulletDelius & Elgar violin concertos on Naxos
bulletKen Russel's Elgar on DVD
bulletSuites on EMI
bulletThe Apostles on EMI
bulletCaractacus on EMI
bulletThe Dream of Gerontius on EMI
bulletSymphony no. 1 on Telarc
bulletSea pictures and The music makers on EMI
bulletThe Apostles on Chandos
bulletCaractacus on Chandos
bulletDavid Owen Norris plays Elgar on Elgar Editions
bulletThe Jacqueline du Pre Cello Concerto on EMI
bulletHalle Tradition on Halle Concert Society
bulletSymphony no. 1 & 2 etc on Decca
bulletThe lighter Elgar on EMI
bulletThe Light of Life on Chandos
bulletThe Black Knight on Chandos
bulletThe concertos on Virgin
bulletFalstaff on Chandos
bulletFalstaff on EMI
bulletDream of Gerontius on EMI Classics for Pleasure
bulletThe Dream of Gerontius with Rattle on EMI
bulletEnigma variations & Falstaff on EMI
bulletSymphony no. 1 on Halle
bulletSymphony no. 2 on Halle
bulletThe symphonies on Chandos
bulletMarches on Naxos
bulletThe Piano concerto on Dutton
bulletEnigma variations on BBC
bulletPartsongs on BBC
bulletViolin concerto on DG

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Copyright © 2004 Tore Frantzvåg Steenslid
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