Essential Elgar for a long journey across England

I am travelling across England today by train after a trip to Manchester for a centenary performance of Elgar’s Violin Concerto played, superbly, dramatically and tearfully by one of the new kids on the block in violin playing, Nicolaj Znaider in an outstanding partnership with conductor Mark Elder and the newly rejuvenated Halle Orchestra. Magnificent and memorable.

The concerto which is almost a symphony is part of a group of works that Elgar wrote at this time under the romantic inspiration of a beautiful woman called Alice Stuart-Wortley (see yesterday’s blog). That Elgar was in love is not really in doubt when you hear the music, in the concerto but also in the next work to come from his pen, the glorious Symphony No 2 and then in his less well known The Music Makers.

Edward Elgar (1857-1934)

When I  lived in Manchester, I made this train journey South on many occasions but whenever I was travelling, by car or train, in those days, I would always play a recording, usually by Adrian Boult, of this symphony, one of my “Desert Island Discs. ”  It speaks of England,  the joy and agony of love, the end of summer and many other things. Elgar quotes shelley on the title page, “rarely, rarely cometh thou spirit of delight.” – it comes to me every time I hear this quintessential Elgar.  I shall be playing it again today, on my iPod, but, in case you think that this is just a piece of English nostalgia, here is a performance of the first movement played by some inspired japanese musicians. Elgar is much more than a provincial Englishman. 


    • Hi Martin, thanks for taking the trouble to express your opinion here, different folk, different styles, I suspect. I said tearfully, because the Elgar tour was introduced by Znaider’s recording of the Elgar Concerto, which established his interpretation, which her did repeat in Manchester, and, I’m told, in Philadelphia too.

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