Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Happy birthday Edward Elgar

Born 2 June 1857, died 23 February 1934.

Much misunderstood as a result of the Pomp and Circumstance marches and all that Proms nonsense, which make him seem like a Colonel Blimp figure, Elgar wrote some magnificent music including two symphonies (the third was completed later by another hand but is well worth hearing), a violin concerto, a string quartet and piano quintet, oratorios such as The Dream of Gerontius, the song cycle Sea Pictures (the words by his wife are much mocked but the Janet Baker version silences criticism), the Enigma Variations yada yada.

And also a cello concerto. Here (I can’t get it to embed, sorry) the first movement is played by its most celebrated performer, Jacqueline du Pre. The conductor is Daniel Barenboim; I am not sure who the orchestra is. This really is one of the most powerful openings in all classical music.

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