Posted tagged ‘Elgar’

Oops — sorry, Sir Edward

October 19, 2007

elgar_0001.jpg

Just received this postcard of Elgar from a friend, in response to my post on the ECO’s Elgar concert (where I described the Nursery Suite as ‘fairly fluffy stuff’)…

He also says:

The ‘Nursery Suite’ was almost the first classical music that I ever knew — from the BBC afternoon test cards in the early 1960s.  The other pieces were ‘España’, ‘Valse Triste’, a waltz from ‘Eugene Onegin’ … and … the ‘Rosenkavalier’ waltzes…

Thanks, Grahame!  So you never can tell what’s going to hook you in. 

Dear BBC (and everyone else), please, don’t ‘dumb down’ — keep scattering the seeds of classical music and there might at least be a few new listeners in future generations.  Otherwise the entire cultural heritage of our civilisation will just dribble away before anyone notices.

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ECO/Elgar

October 4, 2007

And so, again, to Cadogan Hall (03 October), for the English Chamber Orchestra’s first concert of the new season, a 150th birthday tribute to Sir Edward Elgar.

But first, an introductory talk by Humphrey Burton, who gave us an entertaining and informative biography of Elgar, enlivened with reminiscences from his own involvement with the famous Ken Russell TV film.  H showed his immense professionalism by speaking for half an hour without notes (‘and without drawing breath’, as my brother Tony said).  Humphrey was then joined by Paul Watkins to discuss the Elgar Cello Concerto – also very illuminating.

Jolly good, H (he ain’t heavy…).

Then eventually back into the by now crowded hall – the audience apparently consisting, to a large extent, of members of the Burton family and bassoonists (including me, my niece Rosie, her chum [hi, Iona!!] and at least six others that we knew of).

First on the concert programme was the Introduction and Allegro for Strings.  Now this was ideally suited to the Hall (cf. my thoughts on large orchestras in here), and to me it made terrific sense as a piece of chamber music, with the lovely and characterful solo quartet (Stephanie Gonley, Annabelle Meare, Jonathan Barritt, Caroline Dale) handing the music back and forth to each other and the other players as though they were all part of one intimate chamber ensemble.  (Maybe, as Tony pointed out, that wasn’t how Elgar imagined it, having written it to show off the massed strings of the LSO in 1905;  but this approach did it for me).  Here as in the rest of the programme, American conductor Andrew Litton showed himself a fine, sympathetic but no-nonsense Elgarian.

Then came the Nursery Suite, which is fairly fluffy stuff if the truth be told, but always touching, and Elgar’s orchestration is an object lesson and a perennial delight.  William Bennett turned ‘The Serious Doll’ into a way-over-the-top flute concerto, but no one seemed to mind.  Nice violin solos from Stephanie Gonley in the last movement, too.

Julie PriceAfter the interval, (more…)