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The Music Room => Composer Discussion => Topic started by: Mark on September 20, 2007, 01:03:01 AM

Title: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Mark on September 20, 2007, 01:03:01 AM
Now, let me say from the outset that I sincerely hope we can have a thread to discuss the life and works of this composer (as we do for so many others), without the insane bickering and backbiting that caused the 'Sir Edward Elgar' thread to get locked. We've been there, done that - let's move on.

I want to kick things off by discussing some of Elgar's lesser-known works. I'm thinking specifically of his beautiful part-songs, of which there are some splendid examples on this CD:

(http://ec1.images-amazon.com/images/I/61B3RV1254L._AA240_.jpg)

Having recently acquired both this disc and Barbirolli's classic take on 'The Dream of Gerontius', I'm amazed at the variety and complexity of Elgar's vocal writing. Whatever one might think of Elgar as an orchestrator, his way with layers and textures of voices is quite something. I confess a preference for his vocal writing for smaller forces, but the way he masses sound in larger works is quite impressive.

Of the part-songs I most enjoy, 'The Shower' stands out farthest. In many respects, it puts me in mind of Stanford's 'The Blue Bird': both have a serenity about them, both seem to convey something far beneath their apparently simple words, and each seems to me to be a perfect example of knowing how much is enough. Even if one listens not to the words of 'The Shower' but to the sound as it washes over you (slight pun intended), one gets the sense that Elgar had an instinct for vocal writing - something for which, AFAIK, he's rarely given due credit.

So, Elgar and his lesser-known works. Are there any which capture your imagination? If not, what are your thoughts on his better-known material? Which performances do Elgar most justice, and which would you recommend others avoid?


(And please, try to keep things civil, folks. Thanks. :))
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: vandermolen on September 20, 2007, 01:24:10 AM
I love Sospiri and Prelude to the Kingdom, also "The Waggon Passes" from the late Nursery Suite.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on September 20, 2007, 03:28:09 AM
I want to kick things off by discussing some of Elgar's lesser-known works. I'm thinking specifically of his beautiful part-songs, of which there are some splendid examples on this CD:

(http://ec1.images-amazon.com/images/I/61B3RV1254L._AA240_.jpg)

Thanks for kicking things off Mark. I have that CD. It's not my favorite Elgar but sometimes it's nice to listen to these part-songs.  :)

The Snow Op. 26, No. 1 is a small vocal work I'd bring up.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Mark on September 20, 2007, 04:13:22 AM
Thanks for kicking things off Mark.

;)

I love Sospiri ...

I know I've heard this, and that I have it on some sampler CD somewhere (not among my main collection). I'll have to dig it out and have another listen. It's quite short, isn't it?
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on September 20, 2007, 04:24:29 AM
I'll have to dig it out and have another listen. It's quite short, isn't it?

Sospiri, Op. 70 is about 5 minutes long.

I have 4 performances of it, 2 for string/chamber orchestra and 2 for violin and piano.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Mark on September 20, 2007, 04:25:49 AM
Sospiri, Op. 70 is about 5 minutes long.

And it's for strings only, yes?
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on September 20, 2007, 04:29:45 AM
And it's for strings only, yes?

Strings + harp
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on September 20, 2007, 04:38:41 AM
Falstaff.

There, now the thread can be taken seriously  0:)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Mark on September 20, 2007, 04:41:44 AM
Strings + harp

Yes, of course. :)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Kullervo on September 20, 2007, 04:52:21 AM
Anyone familiar with this (rather inexpensive) disc?

(http://g-ec2.images-amazon.com/images/I/41QEWZ46JFL._AA240_.jpg)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on September 20, 2007, 04:55:11 AM
Another piece which absolutely must be mentioned on the first page of any Elgar thread pretending to respectability, is the Sonata for Violin & Piano in E minor, Opus 82. Head and shoulders above the Piano Quintet, IMO, though I do enjoy the latter.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Mark on September 20, 2007, 04:57:59 AM
Another piece which absolutely must be mentioned on the first page of any Elgar thread pretending to respectability, is the Sonata for Violin & Piano in E minor, Opus 82. Head and shoulders above the Piano Quintet, IMO, though I do enjoy the latter.

Thanks for the tip-off. Wasn't aware of this work.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on September 20, 2007, 05:00:35 AM
Thanks for the tip-off. Wasn't aware of this work.

It was completely off my radar until Nigel Kennedy played this at Old Cabell Hall in Charlottesville.  I turned pages for his accompanist, and the piece has had me in its fell grip ever since.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Mark on September 20, 2007, 05:02:50 AM
Feel I need to again plug this excellent CD, not just for its Elgar but also a stirring Walton and beautiful Finzi:

(http://ec1.images-amazon.com/images/I/41S6S4RW7WL._AA240_.jpg)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on September 20, 2007, 05:32:21 AM
When I saw Finzi: Elegy it took me a long second to realize it's not the Eclogue.  The Walton I should listen to again, too; that looks a nice disc, Mark.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Mark on September 20, 2007, 05:43:32 AM
When I saw Finzi: Elegy it took me a long second to realize it's not the Eclogue.  The Walton I should listen to again, too; that looks a nice disc, Mark.

It's superb, Karl. Buy it without delay. ;)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on September 20, 2007, 05:48:19 AM
Oh, for entirely non-musical reasons, delay is very much indicated  8)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on September 20, 2007, 05:51:46 AM
I love Sospiri ever since hearing a recording by the Academy of St. Martin's-in-the-Fields under (who else) Neville Marriner. It was an Argo disc (yes, gramophone...), IIRC. And there's an organ, too, I think (ad lib.)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on September 20, 2007, 06:55:21 AM
And there's an organ, too, I think (ad lib.)

Yes, harmonium.  ;)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Lethevich on September 20, 2007, 07:06:29 AM
Anyone familiar with this (rather inexpensive) disc?

(http://g-ec2.images-amazon.com/images/I/41QEWZ46JFL._AA240_.jpg)

I haven't heard that one, but on the same label there is this two-disc set (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Elgar-Violin-Concerto-Quartet-Quintet/dp/B0001ZM8VI) which I can recommend, it provides excellent recordings of his three major chamber works, and as (a rather large :P) bonus, a nice one of the violin concerto. The performances are pretty much the usual from British forces playing British music - unflashy and undisappointing. The music does the talking.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Kullervo on September 20, 2007, 02:10:20 PM
I haven't heard that one, but on the same label there is this two-disc set (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Elgar-Violin-Concerto-Quartet-Quintet/dp/B0001ZM8VI) which I can recommend, it provides excellent recordings of his three major chamber works, and as (a rather large :P) bonus, a nice one of the violin concerto. The performances are pretty much the usual from British forces playing British music - unflashy and undisappointing. The music does the talking.

Thanks!
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Bonehelm on September 20, 2007, 03:01:40 PM
I never knew Elgar wrote such moving/touching melody...in his 1st symphony's 1st movtment's beginning...
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Mark on September 20, 2007, 03:05:16 PM
I never knew Elgar wrote such moving/touching melody...in his 1st symphony's 1st movtment's beginning...

To say nothing of the work's gorgeous third movement. :)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: JoshLilly on September 20, 2007, 04:01:05 PM
The Pomp and Circumstance #1 may be overplayed, but I still think that the middle part is one of the greatest melodies in the entire history of music. "Serious" music folks seem to enjoy trashing it, but I just love it.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on September 21, 2007, 01:09:52 AM
The Pomp and Circumstance #1 may be overplayed, but I still think that the middle part is one of the greatest melodies in the entire history of music. "Serious" music folks seem to enjoy trashing it, but I just love it.

Yes, it's overplayed. When Elgar invented the trio melody he said "A tune like that comes once in a lifetime." The fact is Elgar wrote brilliant marches and people trash them because they were composed by Elgar, a massively misunderstood* composer.

_______________________________________________
* Bonehelm just said above he never knew Elgar wrote such moving/touching melody...in his 1st symphony's 1st movtment's beginning...
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: vandermolen on September 21, 2007, 01:33:55 AM
I love Sospiri ever since hearing a recording by the Academy of St. Martin's-in-the-Fields under (who else) Neville Marriner. It was an Argo disc (yes, gramophone...), IIRC. And there's an organ, too, I think (ad lib.)

Yes, it's VERY beautiful. I have a number of recordings. My introduction was an excellent Barbirolli recording (with Symphony 2 on EMI British Composers). They used it, in a very moving way as music accompanying an excellent radio addaption of Len Deigton's "Bomber" on BBC Radio 4.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on September 21, 2007, 01:45:17 AM
Talking about Symphony 2 - is anyone else of the opinion that the Larghetto and Rondo movements really are among the 'Best of British'?
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Mark on September 21, 2007, 02:09:35 AM
Talking about Symphony 2 - is anyone else of the opinion that the Larghetto and Rondo movements really are among the 'Best of British'?

I know that Poju is a BIG fan of the Second Symphony, but try as I might, I can't connect with it. The First speaks more to me ... and even the Third (with the assistance of Anthony Payne) is more to my taste. The Second Symphony is an example of Elgar that I don't like. Another would be some of the music from the Wand of Youth Suites.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: vandermolen on September 21, 2007, 02:16:00 AM
Talking about Symphony 2 - is anyone else of the opinion that the Larghetto and Rondo movements really are among the 'Best of British'?

Yes
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on September 21, 2007, 02:21:04 AM
I know that Poju is a BIG fan of the Second Symphony, but try as I might, I can't connect with it. The First speaks more to me ... and even the Third (with the assistance of Anthony Payne) is more to my taste. The Second Symphony is an example of Elgar that I don't like. Another would be some of the music from the Wand of Youth Suites.

Interesting, Mark. I know the experience - I 'suffer' from it with the Sibelius Sixth and the Vaughan Williams Fifth. Both are composers I really love, but these two works, for whatever reason, don't speak to me. As far as Elgar's Second is concerned - I am very moved by the tragic undercurrents in this work. The motto from the work is derived from Shelley (IIRC), 'Rarely comest thou, spirit of Delight'. The melancholy that you feel in this work really moves me deeply. But it takes a good conductor to bring it off. It's with Elgar, I have noticed, as with Delius - an indifferent performance really kills the work, so that you get the feeling nothing much of importance happens. Whereas a good performance gives you the feeling of listening to some of the best music ever.

Perhaps this goes for all music. But Elgar and Delius seem to require a real spiritual affinity in the conductor. (And Brian, another favourite of mine, demands the same thing, btw)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Mark on September 21, 2007, 02:28:54 AM
I totally agree about Elgar and Delius needing sensitive, attuned interpreters - the latter even more so than the former. I've found Delius quite the turn-off before now; undoubtedly, its performers are to blame.

But as to you finding the Sibelius Sixth doesn't speak to you, I'm shocked. Genuinely. I think it's among his very best works, and one with which I connected immediately.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on September 21, 2007, 02:42:32 AM
Strange, isn't it, how people can differ in their response?

I think what I find difficult in Sibelius's Sixth is that I'm missing something - when the work starts there seems to me to be a lack of scale, I miss the sense that there is a vast world to be explored, a feeling I have in the Fourth, Fifth and Seventh (one of my absolute favourites), and also in Tapiola. It's this, I think, that has so far hindered me in my appreciation.

But, just to make clear that I'd rather love a work than leave it, I'll listen to it again (not now, but during the weekend).
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Mark on September 21, 2007, 02:44:38 AM
But, just to make clear that I'd rather love a work than leave it, I'll listen to it again (not now, but during the weekend).

Fair enough. I'll spin Elgar's Second Symphony once more and report back. ;)
Title: Sibelius Adjunct to Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on September 21, 2007, 03:16:40 AM
Strange, isn't it, how people can differ in their response?

I think what I find difficult in Sibelius's Sixth is that I'm missing something - when the work starts there seems to me to be a lack of scale, I miss the sense that there is a vast world to be explored . . . .

This is maybe a case of 'we agree on the facts, but differ as to their significance' :-)

This for me is part of the charm and attraction of the Sixth, this tenderness and intimacy of tone, partly signalled by those two additions to the scoring which are unusual for Sibelius's symphonies, the bass clarinet and the harp.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Harry Collier on September 21, 2007, 03:20:57 AM
I, too, love the second symphony. Very mixed-up and contorted, but some of Elgar's best music. Of the lesser known works, I quite go along with Sospiri (especially Barbirolli's gorgeous heart-on-sleeve performance on a disc of British music for string orchestra that includes Introduction & Allegro, Serenade for Strings, Vaughan Williams "Tallis" and "Greensleeves" -- a real desert island disc).

The piano quintet I find extremely likeable. There is also an attractive CD with William Boulton playing Elgar's violin & piano music, including many of his ephemeral salon pieces. Marat Bisengaliev also has a CD of the violin & piano pieces. The first part of Dream of Gerontius I love very much, but always grow slightly impatient with Part II. A pity Elgar didn't just end with Gerontius's death!
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on September 21, 2007, 03:25:36 AM
"This for me is part of the charm and attraction of the Sixth, this tenderness and intimacy of tone"

As I have nothing against 'tenderness and intimacy' in music, I'm really looking forward now to hearing how they sound in the Sibelian universe. Who knows - perhaps I'll 'get' it (the Sixth) for the first time...

Johan
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on September 21, 2007, 04:41:06 AM
Talking about Symphony 2 - is anyone else of the opinion that the Larghetto and Rondo movements really are among the 'Best of British'?

No. 2 is Elgar's finest symphony and among the finest of all his works. I find Larghetto and Finale absolutely mindblowing. Of all versions I have heard Downes on Naxos brings up the sophistication of this work best. 
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Larry Rinkel on September 21, 2007, 04:42:32 AM
Talking about Symphony 2 - is anyone else of the opinion that the Larghetto and Rondo movements really are among the 'Best of British'?

Not I.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Larry Rinkel on September 21, 2007, 04:44:12 AM
I never knew Elgar wrote such moving/touching melody...in his 1st symphony's 1st movtment's beginning...

That is certainly a volta face...   :D
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Hector on September 21, 2007, 05:17:48 AM
Talking about Symphony 2 - is anyone else of the opinion that the Larghetto and Rondo movements really are among the 'Best of British'?

No, the whole symphony is. Subtle beyond the understanding of many (and they will be on here before long trashing it and everything else) it is, often, seen as an elegy for a lost era, the Edwardian, in that it evokes nostalgia but the work ends with this dynamic last movement that actually points towards the future which makes one reassess one's initial feelings to the rest of the symphony.

Elgar's orchestration is very lucid, something that the great British conductors and orchestra understood almost instinctively and still do. Try Lyrita's double of the two symphonies under Boult. There are no better.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on September 21, 2007, 05:28:01 AM
Hector, I agree with your assessment. I love the symphony as a whole. But it's those middle movements that begin playing inside my head whenever I think of the work, the passionate elevation of the Larghetto, the frenzy of the Rondo...

I like your analysis of the work's trajectory - the first movement is catastrophic, the last movement, after all that has happened in between, serene and positive.

Yes, the work does 'open out' in the end. You are right there.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Kullervo on September 21, 2007, 05:32:23 AM
That is certainly a volta face...   :D

No, probably just overcoming prejudices and finally taking something on its own terms.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Larry Rinkel on September 21, 2007, 05:35:22 AM
No, the whole symphony is. Subtle beyond the understanding of many (and they will be on here before long trashing it and everything else)

Ah, that's my problem. Not subtle enough. I'm only fit for unsubtle things like late Beethoven quartets.  :D
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: dtwilbanks on September 21, 2007, 06:13:45 AM
Slap on your wrists with a butter knife, Karl, for provocation. >:( ;D

And this thread was going so well...
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Larry Rinkel on September 21, 2007, 06:19:34 AM
And this thread was going so well...

And who was it who started making personal accusations?  0:)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: dtwilbanks on September 21, 2007, 06:21:39 AM
And who was it who started making personal accusations?  0:)

Adam?
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on September 21, 2007, 06:21:51 AM
All right, I've removed the message under advisement.

But, my friends, talking of the merits of the music is one thing.  Retreating into sneers at "the unwashed" who alleged lack the "subtlety" to appreciate the merits of the music, are another.

Agreed?
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on September 21, 2007, 06:22:17 AM
This thread, any thread on this board will flourish and survive if people direct their subtlety and verbal dexterity (if present) at the things they care for.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: dtwilbanks on September 21, 2007, 06:22:48 AM
All right, I've removed the message under advisement.

But, my friends, talking of the merits of the music is one thing.  Retreating into sneers at "the unwashed" who alleged lack the "subtlety" to appreciate the merits of the music, are another.

Agreed?
Yah.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Larry Rinkel on September 21, 2007, 06:24:03 AM
Adam?

Guess again . . .
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: dtwilbanks on September 21, 2007, 06:24:49 AM
Guess again . . .

Larry?  ;D
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on September 21, 2007, 06:25:58 AM
Actually the most curious thing about Hector's post was characterizing Elgar's orchestration as lucid.  It's not an adjective one normally associates with that orchestration;  and though it is a while since I looked at the score to the symphonies, lucid was not a word which leapt to my mind at the time, either.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Mark on September 21, 2007, 06:28:34 AM
Actually the most curious thing about Hector's post was characterizing Elgar's orchestration as lucid.  It's not an adjective one normally associates with that orchestration;  and though it is a while since I looked at the score to the symphonies, lucid was not a word which leapt to my mind at the time, either.

Might 'chaotic' be a more appropriate word? The Second Symphony certainly sounds all over the place (at times) to my untrained ears.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on September 21, 2007, 06:30:55 AM
Actually the most curious thing about Hector's post was characterizing Elgar's orchestration as lucid.  It's not an adjective one normally associates with that orchestration;  and though it is a while since I looked at the score to the symphonies, lucid was not a word which leapt to my mind at the time, either.

I'm listening to the Rondo of the Second (Downes) whilst writing this, and though 'lucid' is perhaps not the correct adjective, because Elgar's music has a solidity which you don't normally associate with lightness or transparance, there is a clarity there: all lines are audible.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on September 21, 2007, 06:34:56 AM
Sounds more like it, Jezetha;  I should revisit the Second, and probably will if there's a little less of this "you unsubtle slumgullions don't get it, do you?" chuff  8)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Larry Rinkel on September 21, 2007, 06:39:30 AM
Larry?  ;D

I don't think so . . . .  :)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: longears on September 21, 2007, 06:39:44 AM
This thread, any thread on this board will flourish and survive if people direct their subtlety and verbal dexterity (if present) at the things they care for.
Me like Moustache's Cello Cto.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on September 21, 2007, 06:40:31 AM
Might 'chaotic' be a more appropriate word? The Second Symphony certainly sounds all over the place (at times) to my untrained ears.

The textures are certainly active, so I don't mind 'chaotic'.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on September 21, 2007, 06:41:33 AM
Sounds more like it, Jezetha;  I should revisit the Second, and probably will if there's a little less of this "you unsubtle slumgullions don't get it, do you?" chuff  8)

I agree. If you think you have an insight, share it. If you think people are deaf or blind, give them eyes and ears. And if they don't want them, move on.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: dtwilbanks on September 21, 2007, 06:42:31 AM
I agree. If you think you have an insight, share it. If you think people are deaf or blind, give them eyes and ears. And if they don't want them, move on.

 0:)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on September 21, 2007, 06:51:29 AM
Lucid is, however, the perfect word for the scoring of the Cello Concerto.

I love the Spanish hints at the start of the second movement Lento.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on September 21, 2007, 06:58:01 AM
Lucid is, however, the perfect word for the scoring of the Cello Concerto.

Yes. The marvel of that work is the way Elgar 'rebuilds' the orchestra around the cello.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on September 21, 2007, 06:59:18 AM
Any composer would love to be able to write an Adagio like that third movement!
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: longears on September 21, 2007, 07:02:45 AM
One of the glories of the literature.

Loss, to make our hearts weep.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on September 21, 2007, 09:03:04 AM
I'm listening to the Rondo of the Second (Downes) whilst writing this... ...there is a clarity there: all lines are audible.

Yes. I have always found Elgar's music complex/sophisticated rather than chaotic. To me every note makes perfect sense. But that's me. Maybe I simply want my classical music "fatter" than average listener.

Bad performances of Elgar's symphonies can sound chaotic if the conductor is unable to balance the textures and follow structures. I also recommend new crystal clear digital recordings of Elgar for maximum structural clarity.

Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Lethevich on September 21, 2007, 10:14:01 AM
Bad performances of Elgar's symphonies can sound chaotic if the conductor is unable to balance the textures and follow structures. I also recommend new crystal clear digital recordings of Elgar for maximum structural clarity.

Bad acoustics don't help either - Davis's LSO Live Elgar performances are a little muddy (heck, many of the releases on that label are), I may try Boult.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Bonehelm on September 21, 2007, 08:00:17 PM
Ok 71dB I need your help appreciating the two Elgar symphonies. Aside from the beginning of his 1st movt. in his 1st symphony, I am almost completely lost in his music. I can't stay on track, it all makes no sense musically to me. Even Bruckner sounds more logical to me comparing to Elgar.

So in order to appreciate him, what should I listen for? (e.g. brass chorales for Bruckner, off-stage brass and fanfares for Mahler, etc)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Mark on September 21, 2007, 11:30:30 PM
... Davis's LSO Live Elgar performances are a little muddy (heck, many of the releases on that label are) ...

Not an experience I've had - I own several discs from the label, almost all of which ring with clarity.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on September 21, 2007, 11:47:47 PM
Ok 71dB I need your help appreciating the two Elgar symphonies. Aside from the beginning of his 1st movt. in his 1st symphony, I am almost completely lost in his music. I can't stay on track, it all makes no sense musically to me. Even Bruckner sounds more logical to me comparing to Elgar.

So in order to appreciate him, what should I listen for? (e.g. brass chorales for Bruckner, off-stage brass and fanfares for Mahler, etc)

Hello, Bonehelm! I'm no 71dB, but I can make a suggestion - why don't you leave the opening movement till later, and start off the with the middle movements? Their structure is very clear. And the Finale is one great struggle to regain that wonderful melody you like from the beginning of the first movement. So, if you end the work, you can begin again, but hopefully with a stronger sense of what the symphony is grappling with and working towards.

Hope this helps.

Johan
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on September 22, 2007, 02:34:02 AM
Ok 71dB I need your help appreciating the two Elgar symphonies. Aside from the beginning of his 1st movt. in his 1st symphony, I am almost completely lost in his music. I can't stay on track, it all makes no sense musically to me. Even Bruckner sounds more logical to me comparing to Elgar.

So in order to appreciate him, what should I listen for? (e.g. brass chorales for Bruckner, off-stage brass and fanfares for Mahler, etc)

I appreciate you are curious about these symphonies and want to understand them better. They are not easy to get imo but I'd say once they become familiar to you and you undertand Elgar's musical thinking better they become very logical.

The key imo to understand Elgar is the fact he composed sounds rather than notes. If you play Elgar's (orchestral) themes on piano they sound less promising but played on orchestra they sound fantastic. You can't separate Elgar's melodies, harmonies etc. from the orchestral timbre. That's why analyse of his scores do not reveal everything essential in Elgar's art. He was a self-taught composer who used music theory in subordinate way to achieve as good sounding music as possible.

I am not capable of full musical analyse of scores but to me Elgar's thematic material seems to be longer than that of many other composers. He uses rather long melodies and motivs to construct the music. These long building blocks overlap in sophisticated ways I admire a lot. I suppose this overlapping is Elgar's version of "fugal writing" in late romantic style. After all, he was heavily influenced by the music of J. S. Bach and Händel (he wanted to became a violinist after hearing a perfomance of The Messiah at the age of 12).

In quiet passages in Elgar's music are not thin which I also like. The sound of woodwinds is thin because of the spectral stucture. Elgar avoids situations where only one woodwind instrument is playing something. He uses woodwinds skillfully to color his music. Elgar was a violinist and strings are the foundation of his music, other instruments mere complete the orchestral colors.

Elgar's music is unique. I find similar orchestral thinking in Bruckner and creativity in Nielsen. I call it relative music. The meaning of every note and musical structure is defined by other notes. You take something away and the whole perfect structure falls apart, loses it's meaning. Oboe starts playing because the last 5 minutes have sonically repaired you to want the sound of oboe. Try to see this analysing the score! If you take those few notes played with oboe away the meaning of the previous 5 minutes is compromised.

In a way Elgar's music is also very easy to understand because he is a straight-to-the-point composer. The music tries to strike your mind and heart directly with the way it sounds. Clearly the 1st movement of his 1st symphony does just that to you. I hope in time rest of his music has the same effect.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: sound67 on September 22, 2007, 03:26:24 AM
Might 'chaotic' be a more appropriate word? The Second Symphony certainly sounds all over the place (at times) to my untrained ears.

Usually, the slower the performance, the muddier the Elgar symphonies seem. Boult e.g. never seems muddy in either (I'd recommend his Lyrita set, which just had its CD premiere), nor does Solti. Giulini, Thomson and Tate do, the dreadfully slow lot of them.

Thomas
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Sergeant Rock on September 22, 2007, 04:27:04 AM
Usually, the slower the performance, the muddier the Elgar symphonies seem. Boult e.g. never seems muddy in either (I'd recommend his Lyrita set, which just had its CD premiere), nor does Solti. Giulini, Thomson and Tate do, the dreadfully slow lot of them.

Solti doesn't belong in that "lot"...he's very swift. With a performance modeled on Elgar's own, he's faster than Boult (at least faster than Boult's EMI version with the LPO). Solti's timings:

I - 15:30
II - 15:30
III - 7:49
IV - 12:33

Maybe you meant Sinopoli?

Sarge
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: sound67 on September 22, 2007, 04:39:54 AM
Solti doesn't belong in that "lot"...he's very swift.

Exactly. That's why there's a "." between Solti and "the lot". I was referring to both Boult/Lyrita and Solti/Decca being on the quick side, the rest on the slow(er) side.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Sergeant Rock on September 22, 2007, 04:51:59 AM
Exactly. That's why there's a "." between Solti and "the lot". I was referring to both Boult/Lyrita and Solti/Decca being on the quick side, the rest on the slow(er) side.

Ah...should have had my specs on. I saw a comma instead of a period. My apologies.

Sarge
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Lethevich on September 22, 2007, 05:30:37 AM
I guess I will definitely try the Boult now. I'm still having difficulties with the syms, and it's my last hope that this may be due to the slow interps I've only heard so far.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: CS on September 22, 2007, 05:41:43 AM
How's Sinopoli in the symphonies? And how is he in the other works (Enigma Vars, Cello Concerto w/ Maisky, In the South)? I haven't heard any of it.

But I did find this interesting treat, of Sinopoli commenting on Elgar's music:

Quote
Elgar composed carefully, a fact not appreciated by many European critics who consider Elgar a mediocre orchestrator. The complexity of the different textual families and polyphony must be balanced with care--it is necessary to have a very good orchestra with a conductor fully aware of how to realize the various levels of sound, character and structure.

Interview with Anne Inglis, Gramophone (London), February 1989, 1266.

Now, does he practice what he preaches?  :)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on September 22, 2007, 05:47:41 AM
Now, does he practice what he preaches?  :)

Thanks to Sarge I can comment Sinopoli on Elgar's 2nd. In my opinion he perhaps tries to practise what he preaches but there are those who practise better (Downes).
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Sergeant Rock on September 22, 2007, 06:13:35 AM
How's Sinopoli in the symphonies? And how is he in the other works (Enigma Vars, Cello Concerto w/ Maisky, In the South)? I haven't heard any of it.

But I did find this interesting treat, of Sinopoli commenting on Elgar's music:
 
Interview with Anne Inglis, Gramophone (London), February 1989, 1266.

Now, does he practice what he preaches?  :)

I'm late for a birthday party but I'll be back later to comment on Sinopoli's Elgar, most especially his recording of the Second which I love (I'm a lone prophet crying in the wilderness  ;D )

Sarge
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Bonehelm on September 22, 2007, 12:35:31 PM
I appreciate you are curious about these symphonies and want to understand them better. They are not easy to get imo but I'd say once they become familiar to you and you undertand Elgar's musical thinking better they become very logical.

The key imo to understand Elgar is the fact he composed sounds rather than notes. If you play Elgar's (orchestral) themes on piano they sound less promising but played on orchestra they sound fantastic. You can't separate Elgar's melodies, harmonies etc. from the orchestral timbre. That's why analyse of his scores do not reveal everything essential in Elgar's art. He was a self-taught composer who used music theory in subordinate way to achieve as good sounding music as possible.

I am not capable of full musical analyse of scores but to me Elgar's thematic material seems to be longer than that of many other composers. He uses rather long melodies and motivs to construct the music. These long building blocks overlap in sophisticated ways I admire a lot. I suppose this overlapping is Elgar's version of "fugal writing" in late romantic style. After all, he was heavily influenced by the music of J. S. Bach and Händel (he wanted to became a violinist after hearing a perfomance of The Messiah at the age of 12).

In quiet passages in Elgar's music are not thin which I also like. The sound of woodwinds is thin because of the spectral stucture. Elgar avoids situations where only one woodwind instrument is playing something. He uses woodwinds skillfully to color his music. Elgar was a violinist and strings are the foundation of his music, other instruments mere complete the orchestral colors.

Elgar's music is unique. I find similar orchestral thinking in Bruckner and creativity in Nielsen. I call it relative music. The meaning of every note and musical structure is defined by other notes. You take something away and the whole perfect structure falls apart, loses it's meaning. Oboe starts playing because the last 5 minutes have sonically repaired you to want the sound of oboe. Try to see this analysing the score! If you take those few notes played with oboe away the meaning of the previous 5 minutes is compromised.

In a way Elgar's music is also very easy to understand because he is a straight-to-the-point composer. The music tries to strike your mind and heart directly with the way it sounds. Clearly the 1st movement of his 1st symphony does just that to you. I hope in time rest of his music has the same effect.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Bonehelm on September 22, 2007, 12:37:06 PM
I appreciate you are curious about these symphonies and want to understand them better. They are not easy to get imo but I'd say once they become familiar to you and you undertand Elgar's musical thinking better they become very logical.

The key imo to understand Elgar is the fact he composed sounds rather than notes. If you play Elgar's (orchestral) themes on piano they sound less promising but played on orchestra they sound fantastic. You can't separate Elgar's melodies, harmonies etc. from the orchestral timbre. That's why analyse of his scores do not reveal everything essential in Elgar's art. He was a self-taught composer who used music theory in subordinate way to achieve as good sounding music as possible.

I am not capable of full musical analyse of scores but to me Elgar's thematic material seems to be longer than that of many other composers. He uses rather long melodies and motivs to construct the music. These long building blocks overlap in sophisticated ways I admire a lot. I suppose this overlapping is Elgar's version of "fugal writing" in late romantic style. After all, he was heavily influenced by the music of J. S. Bach and Händel (he wanted to became a violinist after hearing a perfomance of The Messiah at the age of 12).

In quiet passages in Elgar's music are not thin which I also like. The sound of woodwinds is thin because of the spectral stucture. Elgar avoids situations where only one woodwind instrument is playing something. He uses woodwinds skillfully to color his music. Elgar was a violinist and strings are the foundation of his music, other instruments mere complete the orchestral colors.

Elgar's music is unique. I find similar orchestral thinking in Bruckner and creativity in Nielsen. I call it relative music. The meaning of every note and musical structure is defined by other notes. You take something away and the whole perfect structure falls apart, loses it's meaning. Oboe starts playing because the last 5 minutes have sonically repaired you to want the sound of oboe. Try to see this analysing the score! If you take those few notes played with oboe away the meaning of the previous 5 minutes is compromised.

In a way Elgar's music is also very easy to understand because he is a straight-to-the-point composer. The music tries to strike your mind and heart directly with the way it sounds. Clearly the 1st movement of his 1st symphony does just that to you. I hope in time rest of his music has the same effect.

Thanks for the explainations. I'm listening to the 2nd symphony now and It does have rich, thick textures. I'm still trying to decipher what Elgar coded, though.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on September 23, 2007, 04:26:22 AM
Thanks for the explainations. I'm listening to the 2nd symphony now and It does have rich, thick textures. I'm still trying to decipher what Elgar coded, though.

No problem!

Have fun deciphering.  ;)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Hector on September 24, 2007, 05:12:46 AM
Ah, that's my problem. Not subtle enough. I'm only fit for unsubtle things like late Beethoven quartets.  :D

And out one of them pops, as if on cue!  ;D

There is so much going on in Elgar's orchestra and the ear needs to not only ascertain the different strands but put them together to form a coherent symphonic movement.

I admit that those unused to Elgar's way with the orchestra may find the result 'chaotic.' Persevere, is all that I can offer.

I would recommend the recent Lyrita issue of Boult conducting both the 1st and 2nd symphonies, a double CD for the price of one.

I have never heard a recording, or performance - not even from Boult, that lays out the orchestration or structure so lucidly.

His lighter music demonstrates what a master orchestrator, and melodist, he was.

Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on September 24, 2007, 05:24:49 AM
I admit that those unused to Elgar's way with the orchestra may find the result 'chaotic.' Persevere, is all that I can offer.

I read Mark's use of the adjective as descriptive, and not derisive/negative.

I'm sure if he dislikes the symphonies, it's for some reason other than the 'chaos'  8)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Larry Rinkel on September 24, 2007, 05:38:52 AM
And out one of them pops, as if on cue!  ;D

And I would suggest you refrain from the personal insults. Those of us who have reservations concerning Elgar are not necessarily stupid, insensitive, unsubtle, careless, or whatever epithets you choose to fling. I have given Elgar's symphonies a number of tries through the years and I continue to find aspects of them overblown and even vulgar (e.g., the way the return of the main themes in #2, outer movements, are punctuated by big chords on the brass and cymbal crashes). It is precisely the lack of subtlety at such moments that alienates me from this strain in Elgar, and his tendency towards grandiosity without irony that makes those pieces less than first-rate in my opinion. It's precisely the subtler works - perhaps above the string quartet, the cello concerto, and Falstaff - that have most won me over. In the first two especially, there is an elegiac tone that is more subtle and moving to me than most anything in the symphonies. There are other works of Elgar I truly admire - the Intro and Allegro, the Cockaigne Overture with its bracing good spirits, and In the South.

The latter of these reflects yet another problem I have with Elgar - trying to hear a distinctive personality that makes his work instantly recognizable. For example, in the first movement of the Piano Quintet I hear a lot of Brahms, especially those quarter-quarter-quarter-eighth note triplet rhythms; and I've referred to In the South as one of my favorite pieces by Richard Strauss. (The music depicting ancient Rome about 6 minutes into the piece is not Straussian, however, and those 3-4 minutes sound both highly original and one of the most powerful passages I know in all of Elgar.)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Mark on September 24, 2007, 08:55:53 AM
I read Mark's use of the adjective as descriptive, and not derisive/negative.

I'm sure if he dislikes the symphonies, it's for some reason other than the 'chaos'  8)

Correct, Karl: descriptive not derisive. ;)

And it's not at all that I don't like Elgar's symphonies - his First is a triumph, in my ears. The Second simply poses problems for me. Which lines to follow? Where do we go from one theme to another? The first movement particularly jangles my nerves to such an extent that I'm left ill-prepared to appreciate what beauty and complexity there is to enjoy in the remainder of the work.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on September 24, 2007, 09:48:48 AM
Some of the music I like is chaotic, and I like the chaos  0:)

So maybe some Elgar (or another composer, too) is too . . . orderly for me, I dunno . . . .
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on September 24, 2007, 09:50:11 AM
. . . and I've referred to In the South as one of my favorite pieces by Richard Strauss. (The music depicting ancient Rome about 6 minutes into the piece is not Straussian, however, and those 3-4 minutes sound both highly original and one of the most powerful passages I know in all of Elgar.

Dang, wonder if I still have a copy of In the South somewhere . . . .
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Dundonnell on September 24, 2007, 10:51:33 AM
The originator of this thread indicated that he was seeking opinions on some of the less well known works by Sir Edward Elgar.

I would suggest one of Elgar's last choral works "The Spirit of England". This is a most beautiful and moving work, written during World War One and setting words by the poet Laurence Binyon. The third and last part of the work is a setting of Binyon's "For the Fallen" and
it used to be the custom for a performance on Armistice Day. I suspect that the title has led some people to imagine that this is a flag-waving example of English Edwardian imperial self-confidence and has deterred proper appreciation of what is, in my opinion, along with the Cello Concerto one of Elgar's late masterpieces.

On the (very early) Chandos CD of "The Spirit of England" conducted by Sir Alexander Gibson the coupling is a work much more in the 'imperial style'-the Coronation Ode of 1902 composed for the coronation of King Edward VII. This is, however, really great fun if taken as a work of its own time. It ends with the choral version of 'Land of Hope and Glory' which is a really splendid conclusion(although I fully appreciate that many may have some difficulties with it!!)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Mark on September 24, 2007, 11:01:08 AM
The originator of this thread indicated that he was seeking opinions on some of the less well known works by Sir Edward Elgar.

I did indeed. :)

Quote
I would suggest one of Elgar's last choral works "The Spirit of England". This is a most beautiful and moving work, written during World War One and setting words by the poet Laurence Binyon. The third and last part of the work is a setting of Binyon's "For the Fallen" and it used to be the custom for a performance on Armistice Day. I suspect that the title has led some people to imagine that this is a flag-waving example of English Edwardian imperial self-confidence and has deterred proper appreciation of what is, in my opinion, along with the Cello Concerto one of Elgar's late masterpieces.

Excellent. Just the kind of recommendation I like: one which gives me something new to explore. ;)

Quote
It ends with the choral version of 'Land of Hope and Glory' which is a really splendid conclusion(although I fully appreciate that many may have some difficulties with it!!)

As an Englishman, part of whom still harbours a half-affection for all that Imperial nonsense (just so long as we treat it as a part of our history and DON'T return to it), I rather enjoy belting out the pompous, arrogant words to 'Land of Hope and Glory'. I also appreciate that this will not find favour with some here (and elsewhere in the world), but I'd be hypocrite to say otherwise.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Larry Rinkel on September 24, 2007, 11:29:03 AM
(1) I did indeed. :)

(2) As an Englishman, part of whom still harbours a half-affection for all that Imperial nonsense (just so long as we treat it as a part of our history and DON'T return to it), I rather enjoy belting out the pompous, arrogant words to 'Land of Hope and Glory'. I also appreciate that this will not find favour with some here (and elsewhere in the world), but I'd be hypocrite to say otherwise.

(1) "The originator of this thread indicated that he was seeking opinions on some of the less well known works by Sir Edward Elgar."

And he also implied that any works by this composer were open for discussion:

"Now, let me say from the outset that I sincerely hope we can have a thread to discuss the life and works of this composer (as we do for so many others)."

(2) By all means, belt away. Sometimes it is nice to know sound travels only a limited distance . . . .  :D
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on September 24, 2007, 11:38:01 AM
I would suggest one of Elgar's last choral works "The Spirit of England".

That's a very good suggestion! Another less known work I am very fond of is "The Music Makers"
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Kullervo on September 24, 2007, 11:43:58 AM
That's a very good suggestion! Another less known work I am very fond of is "The Music Makers"

Immortalized in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory! :)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: sound67 on September 24, 2007, 11:45:03 AM
And I would suggest you refrain from the personal insults. Those of us who have reservations concerning Elgar are not necessarily stupid, insensitive, unsubtle, careless, or whatever epithets you choose to fling. I have given Elgar's symphonies a number of tries through the years and I continue to find aspects of them overblown and even vulgar (e.g., the way the return of the main themes in #2, outer movements, are punctuated by big chords on the brass and cymbal crashes). It is precisely the lack of subtlety at such moments that alienates me from this strain in Elgar, and his tendency towards grandiosity without irony that makes those pieces less than first-rate in my opinion.

A most unsophisticated comment.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: sound67 on September 24, 2007, 11:46:52 AM
I would suggest one of Elgar's last choral works "The Spirit of England". This is a most beautiful and moving work, written during World War One and setting words by the poet Laurence Binyon. The third and last part of the work is a setting of Binyon's "For the Fallen" and
it used to be the custom for a performance on Armistice Day. I suspect that the title has led some people to imagine that this is a flag-waving example of English Edwardian imperial self-confidence and has deterred proper appreciation of what is, in my opinion, along with the Cello Concerto one of Elgar's late masterpieces.

Exactly. An unfortunate choice of title. Had Elgar called the whole work "For the Fallen", it would long have been a classic.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on September 24, 2007, 11:47:51 AM
At the time, I am sure, the title did not strike anyone as unfortunate.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Mark on September 24, 2007, 11:50:57 AM
(1) "The originator of this thread indicated that he was seeking opinions on some of the less well known works by Sir Edward Elgar."

And he also implied that any works by this composer were open for discussion:

My dear Larry, a misunderstanding has eventuated, I'm sure. My 'Indeed I did' remark shouldn't be seen by anyone as me being disapproving of discussion of Elgar's output other than his lesser-known works. As you rightly observed, I welcomed discussion of ALL of Elgar's music from the outset. :)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: knight66 on September 24, 2007, 11:53:04 AM
The originator of this thread indicated that he was seeking opinions on some of the less well known works by Sir Edward Elgar.

I would suggest one of Elgar's last choral works "The Spirit of England". This is a most beautiful and moving work, written during World War One and setting words by the poet Laurence Binyon. The third and last part of the work is a setting of Binyon's "For the Fallen"
On the (very early) Chandos CD of "The Spirit of England" conducted by Sir Alexander Gibson the coupling is a work much more in the 'imperial style'-the Coronation Ode of 1902 composed for the coronation of King Edward VII. This is, however, really great fun if taken as a work of its own time. It ends with the choral version of 'Land of Hope and Glory' which is a really splendid conclusion(although I fully appreciate that many may have some difficulties with it!!)

I agree, it really is a beautiful piece, Teresa Cahill sounds Strausian in the way she spins the soprano solo lines. I was in that recording as a chorister, it was done with not much rehearsal.

Mike
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: BachQ on September 24, 2007, 11:54:56 AM
I was in that recording as a chorister

By God!  We have a celebrity in our very midst ........
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: knight66 on September 24, 2007, 11:55:49 AM
That's a very good suggestion! Another less known work I am very fond of is "The Music Makers"

I don't agree, it comes across as a patchwork of quotes sewen together. Although I quite like it, I don't rate it as one of his best works.

Mike
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: BachQ on September 24, 2007, 11:57:02 AM
Teresa Cahill sounds Strausian in the way she spins the soprano solo lines.

Do you mean Straussian?
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: knight66 on September 24, 2007, 12:00:17 PM
Yes thanks, the dyslexia is kicking in good style tonight. I should use the spellcheck. I am also on MSN and that is almost indecipherable.

Mike
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: BachQ on September 24, 2007, 12:03:24 PM
I should use the spellcheck.



By George ........ upon applying the spellchecker, it appears that STRAUSSIAN has made it into the spellchecker's vocab!  :D
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Mark on September 24, 2007, 12:07:45 PM


By George ........ upon applying the spellchecker, it appears that STRAUSSIAN has made it into the spellchecker's vocab!  :D

I know - it's amazing! I appreciate that this isn't bespoke forum software, but the number of words you'd assume the spellchecker on a site like this would know, yet which it doesn't, is astonishing. :D
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on September 24, 2007, 12:11:23 PM
I don't agree, it comes across as a patchwork of quotes sewen together. Although I quite like it, I don't rate it as one of his best works.

Mike

Yes, it is quotes sewen together but I am still fond of it. I don't rate it one of Elgar's best either but still nice.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Larry Rinkel on September 24, 2007, 12:13:43 PM
A most unsophisticated comment.

Grow up.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on September 24, 2007, 12:15:02 PM
I was in that recording as a chorister.

Mike

COOL!!   8)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Hector on September 25, 2007, 04:42:42 AM
I read Mark's use of the adjective as descriptive, and not derisive/negative.

I'm sure if he dislikes the symphonies, it's for some reason other than the 'chaos'  8)

Agreed, but it is only his opinion. If that is what he hears, fine, but it is not chaotic. Perhaps a poor description. i cannot answer for him.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Mark on September 25, 2007, 04:54:39 AM
Hector, surely I shouldn't have to qualify every post I make by stipulating that what I write is never more than my own opinion? ::)

In any case, let's just rewind a little and study the facts. Karl questioned the use of the word 'lucid' in connection with Elgar's orchestration of his Second Symphony. He then seemed to be reaching for a more appropriate word, and I merely suggested that it might be 'chaotic':

Might 'chaotic' be a more appropriate word? The Second Symphony certainly sounds all over the place (at times) to my untrained ears.

Whether or not I find the Second Symphony 'chaotic' was never the point. As a matter of fact, I do, but that's my view and I don't expect others to share in it.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Hector on September 25, 2007, 04:57:47 AM
And I would suggest you refrain from the personal insults. Those of us who have reservations concerning Elgar are not necessarily stupid, insensitive, unsubtle, careless, or whatever epithets you choose to fling. I have given Elgar's symphonies a number of tries through the years and I continue to find aspects of them overblown and even vulgar (e.g., the way the return of the main themes in #2, outer movements, are punctuated by big chords on the brass and cymbal crashes). It is precisely the lack of subtlety at such moments that alienates me from this strain in Elgar, and his tendency towards grandiosity without irony that makes those pieces less than first-rate in my opinion. It's precisely the subtler works - perhaps above the string quartet, the cello concerto, and Falstaff - that have most won me over. In the first two especially, there is an elegiac tone that is more subtle and moving to me than most anything in the symphonies. There are other works of Elgar I truly admire - the Intro and Allegro, the Cockaigne Overture with its bracing good spirits, and In the South.

The latter of these reflects yet another problem I have with Elgar - trying to hear a distinctive personality that makes his work instantly recognizable. For example, in the first movement of the Piano Quintet I hear a lot of Brahms, especially those quarter-quarter-quarter-eighth note triplet rhythms; and I've referred to In the South as one of my favorite pieces by Richard Strauss. (The music depicting ancient Rome about 6 minutes into the piece is not Straussian, however, and those 3-4 minutes sound both highly original and one of the most powerful passages I know in all of Elgar.)

You read into my posts what you want but it seems to me that I have struck a nerve.

What you hear in the symphonies is not there  but you continue to bang on about it.

Yes, you hear Brahms, but I can think of a number of composers of this period that that is true of. So what?

I detect Elgarian tendencies in Reger or is it Regerian tendencies in Elgar. I cannot remember but they were friends. What are your thoughts on this?

Personally, I struggle to like, let alone love, 'Falstaff' as I struggle with 'humour' in music. A magnificent failure as far as I'm concerned, perhaps (we all have our 'deaf' spots)?

I know many think 'Falstaff' Elgar's greatest orchestral work. It might be, I don't care, I prefer the symphonies and Richard Strauss' 'Alassio' ('Aus Italien' extended?).

Unable to hear a distinctive personality? That is your problem and, no doubt, others will clamour to support you!

Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: longears on September 25, 2007, 05:05:07 AM
And I would suggest you refrain from the personal insults. Those of us who have reservations concerning Elgar are not necessarily stupid, insensitive, unsubtle, careless, or whatever epithets you choose to fling. I have given Elgar's symphonies a number of tries through the years and I continue to find aspects of them overblown and even vulgar (e.g., the way the return of the main themes in #2, outer movements, are punctuated by big chords on the brass and cymbal crashes). It is precisely the lack of subtlety at such moments that alienates me from this strain in Elgar, and his tendency towards grandiosity without irony that makes those pieces less than first-rate in my opinion. It's precisely the subtler works - perhaps above the string quartet, the cello concerto, and Falstaff - that have most won me over. In the first two especially, there is an elegiac tone that is more subtle and moving to me than most anything in the symphonies. There are other works of Elgar I truly admire - the Intro and Allegro, the Cockaigne Overture with its bracing good spirits, and In the South.

I agree whole-heartedly.  As for "unsophisticated," why, that's one of the highest compliments imaginable!
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on September 25, 2007, 05:06:38 AM
Personally, I struggle to like, let alone love, 'Falstaff' as I struggle with 'humour' in music.

Very interesting, Hector.  In a broad (medieval) sense of humor, yes, I enjoy the humor of Falstaff, and I think rather more of it than of the symphonies (which, in my view of things, much more readily qualify as “magnificent” [or large, at any rate] ”failures”).  In my enjoyment and admiration for Falstaff, there is no emphasis on chuckly chortles . . . that is simply (and again, just to judge from my own read of the music) beside much more germane points.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on September 25, 2007, 05:12:16 AM
Re Hector's: "Personally, I struggle to like, let alone love, 'Falstaff' as I struggle with 'humour' in music. A magnificent failure as far as I'm concerned, perhaps (we all have our 'deaf' spots)?"

I don't like 'Falstaff' either, try as I might.

Re Larry Rinkel's interesting criticism about Elgar's 'grandiosity without irony': apart from the question whether grandeur per se is a bad thing, so that only when you undercut it, you demonstrate subtlety, I would argue that Elgar 'criticises', if you will, this grandiose gesture implicitly in the rest of the symphony. It's a bit like the Alma theme in the first movement of Mahler's Sixth - ever so slightly over the top, for the precise purpose of putting it violently into perspective in the next movement(s). Back to Elgar - I think Elgar is very 'tactful' with his brass and his cymbals in the Second. I can't see any vulgarity. There is only an intensity of expression.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Larry Rinkel on September 25, 2007, 05:12:54 AM
Hector, surely I shouldn't have to qualify every post I make by stipulating that what I write is never more than my own opinion? ::)

In any case, let's just rewind a little and study the facts. Karl questioned the use of the word 'lucid' in connection with Elgar's orchestration of his Second Symphony. He then seemed to be reaching for a more appropriate word, and I merely suggested that it might be 'chaotic':

Whether or not I find the Second Symphony 'chaotic' was never the point. As a matter of fact, I do, but that's my view and I don't expect others to share in it.

You see, Mark, what we have here from the resident Elgarians is not a disinterested, open-minded attempt to evaluate this composer's strengths and weaknesses, but a kind of hagiography in which any criticism of St. Edward must be countered by personal attack ("what you hear is not there," "that is your problem," "a most unsophisticated comment" and the like). I hear a grandiosity in some of the work that I find off-putting, and I doubt I'm alone. Why the Elgarians are at such pains to snipe at any criticism of their idol is - well, perhaps their problem. But it is not the way to win anyone else over to their point of view.  :D
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Larry Rinkel on September 25, 2007, 05:16:34 AM
Very interesting, Hector.  In a broad (medieval) sense of humor, yes, I enjoy the humor of Falstaff, and I think rather more of it than of the symphonies (which, in my view of things, much more readily qualify as “magnificent” [or large, at any rate] ”failures”).  In my enjoyment and admiration for Falstaff, there is no emphasis on chuckly chortles . . . that is simply (and again, just to judge from my own read of the music) beside much more germane points.

Actually I consider Falstaff one of Elgar's greatest successes - not only for its tone of humor, but for its formal fluidity. The way in which Elgar keeps in play a highly complex amount of thematic material with very little repetition reminds me, above all, of Debussy's technique in Jeux - another extremely sophisticated work that has never won broad public acclaim.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Mark on September 25, 2007, 05:24:38 AM
Why the Elgarians are at such pains to snipe at any criticism of their idol is - well, perhaps their problem. But it is not the way to win anyone else over to their point of view.  :D

True. But Mahlerites can get even more tetchy. ;D

Actually I consider Falstaff one of Elgar's greatest successes - not only for its tone of humor, but for its formal fluidity. The way in which Elgar keeps in play a highly complex amount of thematic material with very little repetition reminds me, above all, of Debussy's technique in Jeux - another extremely sophisticated work that has never won broad public acclaim.

Had a copy of Falstaff on my shelves for months but it's been left unplayed - indeed, I don't know the work at all. Think I'll spin it this afternoon.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on September 25, 2007, 05:42:05 AM
Actually I consider Falstaff one of Elgar's greatest successes - not only for its tone of humor, but for its formal fluidity. The way in which Elgar keeps in play a highly complex amount of thematic material with very little repetition reminds me, above all, of Debussy's technique in Jeux - another extremely sophisticated work that has never won broad public acclaim.

A musically excellent comparison, and yet another work I like a whole lot.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Larry Rinkel on September 25, 2007, 05:43:12 AM
True. But Mahlerites can get even more tetchy. ;D

I don't know about that!!!!  ;D ;D ;D
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on September 25, 2007, 05:44:24 AM
Actually I consider Falstaff one of Elgar's greatest successes - not only for its tone of humor, but for its formal fluidity.

Indeed.  For me, the real barrier of the symphonies is not the material, not the tone, not the character, not the texture or orchestration (for in all these I find a good deal to like) . . . but how they wear their symphoniness like a concrete cummerbund.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Kullervo on September 25, 2007, 05:45:21 AM
A musically excellent comparison, and yet another work I like a whole lot.

You think so? I thought the way he used the themes in Falstaff was like the Wagnerian leitmotif. Jeux to me seems more akin to serialism, in that it's constantly renewing itself with almost no repetition. </Cretin's analysis>
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Mark on September 25, 2007, 06:24:52 AM
Wow! Falstaff's certainly an interesting proposition. Not quite sure what to make of it after the first hearing.

It definitely has 'Elgar' stamped all over it. Like Delius, Elgar seemed to enjoy that undulating 'rise and fall' to his orchestration - first soft, then loud, then soft, etc. Gave away the piece as his immediately. ;D

But did I like it? And did I like better than his Second Symphony? Hard to say. Not as dense as his symphonies - a fact I appreciated. Would I play it often? Probably not: it feels like it should accompany some stage or cinematic action, and I'd love to hear parts of it so used. But it's not a work I'm likely to fall head over heels in love with, whatever it's merits or charms.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on September 25, 2007, 06:29:49 AM
Or, maybe on the second or third listening, Mark, it will have its hooks well into yer!  ;)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Mark on September 25, 2007, 06:32:57 AM
Or, maybe on the second or third listening, Mark, it will have its hooks well into yer!  ;)

Quite possibly. Or perhaps not. The recording of Dvorak's Symphonic Variations with which my Falstaff is paired puts Elgar's efforts in the shade, reminding me once again that Eddy wasn't the world's greatest orchestrator. ;D
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on September 25, 2007, 06:38:09 AM
Oh, that programming is hard cheddar on Elgar!  The Falstaff I have is on an all-Elgar disc . . . but would I listen to it a lot, if it were on the same disc as Dvořák, Tchaikovsky or Rakhmaninov? But, soft . . . .
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on September 25, 2007, 09:48:42 AM
How liberating! I don't care anymore what other people write about Elgar! I just ignore! I have learned finally!

Please continue! I continue ignoring!  ;D
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: BachQ on September 25, 2007, 10:01:22 AM
I just ignore! I have learned finally!

But you're NOT ignoring .........
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Mark on September 25, 2007, 10:03:48 AM
But you're NOT ignoring .........

Don't tease him. It's taken Poju ages to appreciate that attacks on Elgar aren't attacks on him. Besides, this thread's now going with a swing - let's not get it locked. ;D
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: BachQ on September 25, 2007, 10:05:47 AM
Don't tease him. It's taken Poju ages to appreciate that attacks on Elgar aren't attacks on him. Besides, this thread's now going with a swing - let's not get it locked. ;D

(I wasn't teasing him ...... I swear)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: dtwilbanks on September 25, 2007, 10:07:53 AM
Yes, the next step in ignoring is to realize in order to completely ignore with competence one must not comment on the ignoring.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: BachQ on September 25, 2007, 10:11:08 AM
Yes, the next step in ignoring is to realize in order to completely ignore with competence one must not comment on the ignoring.

But at the same time, one shouldn't ignore posts like yours which highlight the art of proper ignoring .......
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: dtwilbanks on September 25, 2007, 10:12:49 AM
But at the same time, one shouldn't ignore posts like yours which highlight the art of proper ignoring .......

Precisely. You are not ignorant.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Larry Rinkel on September 25, 2007, 10:21:13 AM
Yes, the next step in ignoring is to realize in order to completely ignore with competence one must not comment on the ignoring.

Precisely: competence in ignoring, like competence in all fields from adultery to homicide, is a matter of considerable skill that can only be manifested when least observable.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on September 25, 2007, 10:24:42 AM
I think Mike was spot-on with his précis of The Music-Makers, too.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Mark on September 25, 2007, 10:25:40 AM
I think Mike was spot-on with his précis of The Music-Makers, too.

It quotes chunks of the Enigma Variations in places, does it not?
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: BachQ on September 25, 2007, 10:27:07 AM
like competence in all fields from adultery to homicide,

LOL
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: BachQ on September 25, 2007, 10:28:07 AM
I think Mike was spot-on with his précis of The Music-Makers, too.

Link please
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Brewski on September 25, 2007, 10:32:09 AM
PS, for anyone in the Minneapolis area next week, a very interesting program around the Beethoven 9th.  My mother is going...I'll ask her to chime in with a report.  ;D

Minnesota Orchestra
Osmo Vänskä, conductor
Helena Juntunen, soprano
Susan Platts, mezzo
Daniel Norman, tenor
Neal Davies, bass
Minnesota Chorale

Elgar: Sospiri  
Argento: Casa Guidi 
Beethoven: Symphony No. 9

--Bruce
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: dtwilbanks on September 25, 2007, 10:35:43 AM
PS, for anyone in the Minneapolis area next week, a very interesting program around the Beethoven 9th.  My mother is going...I'll ask her to chime in with a report.  ;D

Minnesota Orchestra
Osmo Vänskä, conductor
Helena Juntunen, soprano
Susan Platts, mezzo
Daniel Norman, tenor
Neal Davies, bass
Minnesota Chorale

Elgar: Sospiri  
Argento: Casa Guidi 
Beethoven: Symphony No. 9

--Bruce

I've heard the Ninth twice by Minnesota. And those are the only two times I've ever been in Orchestra Hall.  ;D
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: BachQ on September 25, 2007, 10:36:37 AM
Elgar: Sospiri  
Argento: Casa Guidi 
Beethoven: Symphony No. 9

Who needs Beethoven when you've got Elgar ........
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on September 25, 2007, 10:37:55 AM
Link please

Ask and ye shall receive . . . . (http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,3503.msg86315.html#msg86315)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on September 25, 2007, 10:38:32 AM
It quotes chunks of the Enigma Variations in places, does it not?

Yes, a charming adaptation of 'Nimrod', what I wot of.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: BachQ on September 25, 2007, 10:41:27 AM
Ask and ye shall receive . . . . (http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,3503.msg86315.html#msg86315)

Oh yes, that part about "patchwork of quotes sewen (sic) together" ..........
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Mark on September 25, 2007, 10:42:40 AM
PS, for anyone in the Minneapolis area next week, a very interesting program around the Beethoven 9th.  My mother is going...I'll ask her to chime in with a report.  ;D

Minnesota Orchestra
Osmo Vänskä, conductor
Helena Juntunen, soprano
Susan Platts, mezzo
Daniel Norman, tenor
Neal Davies, bass
Minnesota Chorale

Elgar: Sospiri  
Argento: Casa Guidi 
Beethoven: Symphony No. 9

--Bruce

Lovely: Vanska peddaling his soulless interpretation of the Ninth. ::) ;D
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on September 25, 2007, 10:43:35 AM
Oh yes, that part about "patchwork of quotes . . . .

I'm thinking of writing a brief oratorio . . . Sewen, They Are Sewen . . . .
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Brewski on September 25, 2007, 10:51:51 AM
I've heard the Ninth twice by Minnesota. And those are the only two times I've ever been in Orchestra Hall.  ;D

 ;D

I would go just for the first two (then you could leave at intermission  ;D  ;D  ;D).

The Argento is a beautiful song cycle, the first work by him I ever heard (a radio broadcast, with Frederica von Stade).  I'm not familiar with Susan Platts, who's singing it here, but the piece is well worth hearing. 

--Bruce
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: dtwilbanks on October 05, 2007, 05:42:25 AM
I apologize if this has been already posted in here.

http://www.scena.org/columns/lebrecht/070411-NL-elgar.html
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Larry Rinkel on October 05, 2007, 07:06:42 AM
I apologize if this has been already posted in here.

http://www.scena.org/columns/lebrecht/070411-NL-elgar.html

And so here we have an Englishman who thinks Elgar inferior and less important to British music than a Finn, and a Finn who thinks Elgar superior to and more important than any composer period.  :D
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: dtwilbanks on October 05, 2007, 07:25:23 AM
And so here we have an Englishman who thinks Elgar inferior and less important to British music than a Finn, and a Finn who thinks Elgar superior to and more important than any composer period.  :D

I can't say much. I haven't found an American composer I really like, unless you count Duke Ellington. :)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Kullervo on October 06, 2007, 08:33:40 AM
I apologize if this has been already posted in here.

http://www.scena.org/columns/lebrecht/070411-NL-elgar.html

He is comparing two composers who were coming from two different places entirely (both literally and figuratively). According to this logic, we should also hold Haydn up to the standards of say, Schumann.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: sound67 on October 15, 2007, 09:58:10 PM
In contrast, ClassicToday's Victor Farr on Elgar's orchestration:

"Boult's scrupulous attention to the subtle timbres of Elgar's orchestration at times make the music sound almost Debussyian."

(Review of Boult/Lyrita Elgar 1 & 2)

Thomas
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Montpellier on October 17, 2007, 06:23:23 AM
In contrast, ClassicToday's Victor Farr on Elgar's orchestration:

"Boult's scrupulous attention to the subtle timbres of Elgar's orchestration at times make the music sound almost Debussyian."

(Review of Boult/Lyrita Elgar 1 & 2)

Thomas

Oh dear..... 

(I know the recording well but I'm blowed if I can hear anything Debussian about it.  Maybe the reviewer omitted to turn his hearing aid on.)

.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on October 20, 2007, 12:20:48 PM
I am listening to Elgar's 1st Symphony by Colin Davis on Profil label (Staatskapelle Dresden). Sounds pretty damn good! 

Thanks Mark!
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Mark on October 20, 2007, 12:57:34 PM
I am listening to Elgar's 1st Symphony by Colin Davis on Profil label (Staatskapelle Dresden). Sounds pretty damn good! 

Thanks Mark!

Thought you'd like that. Got a certain edginess, hasn't it? Kinda raw, not soft-focused like some interpretations. All the better for being a live recording, too. Gives it an extra energy. :)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on October 20, 2007, 01:00:07 PM
Thought you'd like that. Got a certain edginess, hasn't it? Kinda raw, not soft-focused like some interpretations. All the better for being a live recording, too. Gives it an extra energy. :)

Actually I didn't like the live recording noises but the performance is good. Naxos is my reference and it has lots of edge too.

Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: BachQ on October 20, 2007, 01:10:49 PM
Kinda raw, not soft-focused like some interpretations.

Which ones are soft-focused?
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Larry Rinkel on October 20, 2007, 01:28:04 PM
Oh dear..... 

(I know the recording well but I'm blowed if I can hear anything Debussian about it.  Maybe the reviewer omitted to turn his hearing aid on.)

.

He did say "almost."
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Mark on October 20, 2007, 01:30:41 PM
Which ones are soft-focused?

Alas, I cannot accurately detail them. I've heard a couple (in part only) on the radio in recent years. They seemed too ...  yes, soft-focused is the only apt way to describe them. I think Sir Andrew Davis - whom I usually love conducting Elgar - may be among the 'guilty' parties.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on October 21, 2007, 02:16:19 AM
Alas, I cannot accurately detail them. I've heard a couple (in part only) on the radio in recent years. They seemed too ...  yes, soft-focused is the only apt way to describe them. I think Sir Andrew Davis - whom I usually love conducting Elgar - may be among the 'guilty' parties.

Just when I am considering the Sir Andrew Davis box of Elgar you tell this scary stuff.  :o
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Mark on October 21, 2007, 02:47:35 AM
Just when I am considering the Sir Andrew Davis box of Elgar you tell this scary stuff.  :o

Buy in good faith, sir - I believe the Davis I heard was a live broadcast. ;)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on October 21, 2007, 02:49:14 AM
Buy in good faith, sir - I believe the Davis I heard was a live broadcast. ;)

OK!  8)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: BachQ on October 21, 2007, 05:56:02 AM
Just when I am considering the Sir Andrew Davis box of Elgar you tell this scary stuff.  :o

We feel your pain .......... and we're here for you, Pujo ..........

Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: sound67 on October 21, 2007, 10:14:53 AM
Alas, I cannot accurately detail them. I've heard a couple (in part only) on the radio in recent years. They seemed too ...  yes, soft-focused is the only apt way to describe them. I think Sir Andrew Davis - whom I usually love conducting Elgar - may be among the 'guilty' parties.

Well, I can. Sinopoli!
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Mark on October 21, 2007, 01:15:41 PM
Well, I can. Sinopoli!

Hurrah! I knew you'd come through on this one. :D
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Bonehelm on October 21, 2007, 02:03:02 PM
Speaking of Sinopoli, I just finished listening to his Elgar cello concerto with the Philharmonia orchestra. Don't know who the soloist is but it's on DG. The playing and recording are superb, but the excessive breathing and sometimes even sighing of the performer (must be the cellist) somewhat annoys me. Good sound though.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Mark on October 21, 2007, 02:19:37 PM
... but the excessive breathing and sometimes even sighing of the performer (must be the cellist) somewhat annoys me. Good sound though.

You sure that 'sighing' is not caused by bow action on strings, rather than by the cellist? Whenever I've heard a cello up close in recital, that 'sighing' is usually evident - I look at the performer's face, and there's no visible sign of them making such a noise. ;)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Bonehelm on October 21, 2007, 03:08:07 PM
You sure that 'sighing' is not caused by bow action on strings, rather than by the cellist? Whenever I've heard a cello up close in recital, that 'sighing' is usually evident - I look at the performer's face, and there's no visible sign of them making such a noise. ;)

Maybe the sighing is not really sighing, but the breathing must be. I play in a semi-professional ensemble myself, and I know exactly how instrument players breathe before they play a lyrical phrase. But in this recording the breathing is so prevalent and outstanding that it annoys the listener because it's not a part of the music.

I'm trying to listen to Elgar's depiction of 1918 post-war Britain, not a guy suffocating after running an hour non stop on the treadmill.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on October 21, 2007, 03:44:33 PM
I'm trying to listen to Elgar's depiction of 1918 post-war Britain,

Don't you mean 1919?
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Kullervo on October 21, 2007, 04:10:36 PM
I actually like breathing. It's humming that bothers me.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Bonehelm on October 21, 2007, 04:37:38 PM
Don't you mean 1919?
The war ended in 1918.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: sound67 on October 21, 2007, 05:13:56 PM
Speaking of Sinopoli, I just finished listening to his Elgar cello concerto with the Philharmonia orchestra. Don't know who the soloist is but it's on DG.

It's Mischa Maisky.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Bonehelm on October 21, 2007, 07:39:39 PM
It's Mischa Maisky.

Yeah, him, the athlete who totally overexercises at running. 
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on October 22, 2007, 12:48:46 AM
The war ended in 1918.

So? Elgar finished his Cello Concerto in 1919 and the first performance was in 26 October 1919.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on October 22, 2007, 05:38:01 AM
So? Elgar finished his Cello Concerto in 1919 and the first performance was in 26 October 1919.

So? The war ended in 1918, and the end of the war was possibly in Elgar's mind as he composed the work.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on October 22, 2007, 05:45:31 AM
So? The war ended in 1918, and the end of the war was possibly in Elgar's mind as he composed the work.

So? Who cares what Elgar had in mind? I suppose nobody on this forum has experienced the end of WWI. How could we understand the musical pointers?
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: BachQ on October 22, 2007, 05:52:25 AM
So? Who cares what Elgar had in mind?

Spoken like a true Elgar scholar ..........
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on October 22, 2007, 05:55:48 AM
Who cares what Elgar had in mind?

At last we are in complete agreement, Poju  ;D
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Bonehelm on October 22, 2007, 06:42:35 AM
So? Who cares what Elgar had in mind? I suppose nobody on this forum has experienced the end of WWI. How could we understand the musical pointers?

Is it just me or is Poju in his mad mind, talking B.S. again?

Thanks for slapping your own face, as a true scholar and admirer of the great composer Edward William Elgar, you don't really give a shit about what was in his mind when he wrote his magnum opus. Then comes some other nonsense about how people need to experience some historical event to know it. Were you alive in Elgar's time? I'd be damned if you were. Then how are you so "knowledgeable" about the man and his music?

Two thumbs up. Way to go.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Kullervo on October 22, 2007, 06:53:16 AM
Has it become fashionable to use 71's real name almost as an insult?
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on October 22, 2007, 07:25:20 AM
Thanks for slapping your own face, as a true scholar and admirer of the great composer Edward William Elgar, you don't really give a shit about what was in his mind when he wrote his magnum opus. Then comes some other nonsense about how people need to experience some historical event to know it. Were you alive in Elgar's time? I'd be damned if you were. Then how are you so "knowledgeable" about the man and his music?

The principles of art are timeless and universal. What Elgar did have in his mind just happened to be triggered by the war. If Elgar lived now he would perhaps use 9/11 for inspiration. I don't know much about Elgar's time but I still enjoy his music.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: BachQ on October 22, 2007, 07:26:43 AM
At last we are in complete agreement, Poju  ;D

Looks like 71dB pulled another Poju .........

Has it become fashionable to use 71's real name almost as an insult?

We would never do that ........
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on October 22, 2007, 07:38:03 AM
I put my words badly: Of course what Elgar had in mind is relevant for what kind of music he wrote but I mean we don't have much means to know what he had in mind except the obvius grief because of the devastation.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Mark on October 22, 2007, 07:56:10 AM
Gentlemen, please, let's not get another Elgar thread locked. :)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Lethevich on October 22, 2007, 07:56:34 AM
Listening to:

In the South; Introduction & Allegro; Sospiri; Enigma Variations (Gardiner, VPO)

and after:

Introduction & Allegro; Serenade; Elegy; Sospiri (Barbirolli, EMI) coupled with RVW Tallis and Greensleves.

There, a non-hostile Elgar post... (unless M wishes to inform us that merely listening to him is endorsing fascism :))
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on October 22, 2007, 07:58:45 AM
Listening to:

In the South; Introduction & Allegro; Sospiri; Enigma Variations (Gardiner, VPO)

and after:

Introduction & Allegro; Serenade; Elegy; Sospiri (Barbirolli, EMI) coupled with RVW Tallis and Greensleves.

There, a non-hostile Elgar post...

Yes, but it should have gone here (http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,9.0.html)  8)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Lethevich on October 22, 2007, 08:01:09 AM
Yes, but it should have gone here (http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,9.0.html)  8)

I will break any rules to prevent a third Elgar thread being ruined :P
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on October 22, 2007, 08:01:54 AM
I honor your mission  0:)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on October 22, 2007, 08:02:54 AM
Talking about war music Elgar wrote several less known works during the war in order to collect money for the Belgian and Polish victims:

Carillon
Polonia
Une Voix dans le Désert
Le Drapeau Belge
Fringes of the Fleet

Gentlemen, please, let's not get another Elgar thread locked. :)

No panic Mark, I am cool.  ;)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Lethevich on October 22, 2007, 08:07:26 AM
Talking about war music Elgar wrote several less known works during the war in order to collect money for the Belgian and Polish victims:

Carillon
Polonia
Une Voix dans le Désert
Le Drapeau Belge
Fringes of the Fleet

Aaah, that is a cool (and insightful) post :) What format are they in, and are any easy to buy on single CD (either an obscurities only disc, or coupled with more famous works)?
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on October 22, 2007, 08:20:16 AM
Aaah, that is a cool (and insightful) post :) What format are they in, and are any easy to buy on single CD (either an obscurities only disc, or coupled with more famous works)?

This (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Elgar-War-Music-Paul-Kenyon/dp/B00008FITG/ref=sr_1_1/202-9113303-0581422?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1193073422&sr=1-1) has all the these works.

These are orchestral works with singing and narration.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Larry Rinkel on October 22, 2007, 10:43:03 AM
The principles of art are timeless and universal. What Elgar did have in his mind just happened to be triggered by the war. If Elgar lived now he would perhaps use 9/11 for inspiration. I don't know much about Elgar's time but I still enjoy his music.

Actually that's a pretty good answer.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on October 22, 2007, 10:47:36 AM
Actually that's a pretty good answer.

It is, indeed;  incomparably sounder than his "Don't you mean 1919?" in response to Elgar's depiction of 1918 post-war Britain.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: BachQ on October 22, 2007, 10:47:59 AM
Actually that's a pretty good answer.

Except how does Poju know that "What Elgar did have in his mind just happened to be triggered by the war." ??
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on October 22, 2007, 12:05:42 PM
Except how does Poju know that "What Elgar did have in his mind just happened to be triggered by the war." ??

War triggers everyone's mind.   ;)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Bonehelm on October 22, 2007, 03:34:20 PM
War triggers everyone's mind.   ;)

Oh dear, he's speaking for everyone again... ::)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Larry Rinkel on October 22, 2007, 03:37:35 PM
Oh dear, he's speaking for everyone again... ::)

OK, OK. What if we said: "War triggers everyone's mind except Bonehelm's"?
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Bonehelm on October 22, 2007, 03:57:27 PM
OK, OK. What if we said: "War triggers everyone's mind except Bonehelm's"?

No.

"War triggers everyone's mind except Bonehelm's and Larry's."
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Hector on October 23, 2007, 03:07:16 AM
I've ordered the Clein.

It woz the cover that sold it to me! ;D
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Mark on October 23, 2007, 03:43:54 AM
I've ordered the Clein.

It woz the cover that sold it to me! ;D

It's got a decent write-up. They say she tries not to be like Du Pre, but actually comes off a little like her in places.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Tapio Dimitriyevich Shostakovich on November 26, 2007, 11:45:13 PM
Got this from our local library and just stumbled across:

Sospiri / op.70: Adagio for Strings, Harp and Organ
Wiener Philharmoniker/Gardiner.


OH THIS IS SO BEAUTIFUL! Even more than that. I love it from the very beginning.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on November 27, 2007, 07:04:04 AM
Sospiri is a lovely little piece.

Looking forward very much to The Dream of Gerontius here in Symphony Hall next month.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on November 27, 2007, 10:08:47 AM
More appropriately, I post this at the Veranda, but I link here because of the tie-in to Gerontius, which (again) I am greatly looking forward to hearing live. (http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,220.msg112319.html#msg112319)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Hector on November 28, 2007, 04:44:58 AM
It's got a decent write-up. They say she tries not to be like Du Pre, but actually comes off a little like her in places.

It was the thought of her playing dressed in her leather gear.

Ride 'em, Natalie.

Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: longears on November 28, 2007, 05:41:45 AM
Got this from our local library and just stumbled across:

Sospiri / op.70: Adagio for Strings, Harp and Organ
Wiener Philharmoniker/Gardiner.


OH THIS IS SO BEAUTIFUL! Even more than that. I love it from the very beginning.
Yep--haven't heard Gardiner's recording but this is absolutely beautiful music.  You might also like his Introduction and Allegro and Elegy for strings.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Hector on November 30, 2007, 07:45:32 AM
It's got a decent write-up. They say she tries not to be like Du Pre, but actually comes off a little like her in places.

Seriously, though, putting her dress aside, she is certainly an antidote to Du Pre as far as I am concerned.

An intellectual performance that, initially, comes across as low-key but begs you to listen again. It is not often you get the feeling from a recording that this was made with home listening in mind, as I did. I see some have commented on the underlying darkness in the reading which is what is expected, surely, of this work written in the wake of the human catastrophe that preceded it.

If you think Du Pre is the 'Dogs Bollocks' in this piece then Clein will offer no appeal. I find her performance growing on me and I haven't had a recording of this work since I sold Tortelier/Boult on LP years ago.

Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on November 30, 2007, 08:21:25 AM
. . . the 'Dogs Bollocks' in this piece

Do I understand you to mean that that's a good thing?
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on November 30, 2007, 08:26:14 AM
And for a frank tangent . . . my introduction to Mark Elder is this wonderful disc of Falstaff, the Cello Concerto, Bassoon Romance and the stumpy bits of the Smoking Cantata;  he is coming to Boston as a guest to conduct the BSO in Sibelius (with Vadim Repin playing the Violin Concerto) and the Shostakovich Fourth.  Really looking forwad to that 'un.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Mark on November 30, 2007, 02:36:27 PM
Seriously, though, putting her dress aside, she is certainly an antidote to Du Pre as far as I am concerned.

An intellectual performance that, initially, comes across as low-key but begs you to listen again. It is not often you get the feeling from a recording that this was made with home listening in mind, as I did. I see some have commented on the underlying darkness in the reading which is what is expected, surely, of this work written in the wake of the human catastrophe that preceded it.

If you think Du Pre is the 'Dogs Bollocks' in this piece then Clein will offer no appeal. I find her performance growing on me and I haven't had a recording of this work since I sold Tortelier/Boult on LP years ago.



May I suggest another 'antidote' to Du Pre (whom, for the record, I do consider the 'mutt's nuts' in this work)? Try Robert Cohen with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under Mackerras on Decca (or Argo, if you can find it).
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: edward on November 30, 2007, 08:05:10 PM
May I suggest another 'antidote' to Du Pre (whom, for the record, I do consider the 'mutt's nuts' in this work)? Try Robert Cohen with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under Mackerras on Decca (or Argo, if you can find it).
Another good antidote: Pieter Wispelwey on Channel Classics (which comes with an excellent Lutoslawski concerto as well).
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Israfel the Black on November 30, 2007, 11:31:46 PM
Du Pre is the benchmark, but I think Tortelier's reading of the Cello Concerto is as good as any.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Mark on December 01, 2007, 12:30:33 AM
Another good antidote: Pieter Wispelwey on Channel Classics (which comes with an excellent Lutoslawski concerto as well).

Might download that next month. Cheers! :)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: longears on December 01, 2007, 05:51:27 AM
Tortelier's reading of the Cello Concerto is as good as any.
And better than most.  I bought the Angel LP unheard after a glowing review back in about '74 and damned near wore it out!

Welcome to GMG, Izzy! 
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Hector on December 03, 2007, 07:47:13 AM
Du Pre is the benchmark, but I think Tortelier's reading of the Cello Concerto is as good as any.

I had Tortelier on LP having had the good fortune to witness the great Frenchman play it at one time.

Wispelwey is, also, excellent and I do not know the Cohen but Watkins' Proms performance has just been made available for download by DG if anybody is interested.

This weekend there were some favourable comments about the Clein. Could be a 'sleeper.'

Yes, you cannot get anything better than the 'dogs bollocks'! ;D
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on December 31, 2007, 06:38:53 AM
Elgar year is almost over...  :P

Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on December 31, 2007, 06:44:14 AM
Well, you cannot really fault the BSO for performing Gerontius in 2008 . . . .
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Bonehelm on January 01, 2008, 01:05:46 PM
Elgar year is almost over...  :P



Have you ever heard of "everyday is a valentines day with a true lover" ?
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: greg on January 01, 2008, 02:51:51 PM
Have you ever heard of "everyday is a valentines day with a true lover" ?
i haven't, though i suppose the true lover must be oneself, since you are the only person who understands yourself.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: samuel on February 06, 2008, 02:35:27 PM
which du pre recording of the cello concerto do you prefer, barenboim or barbirolli?

and what is your favorite recording of the violin concerto?

thanks:)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Bonehelm on February 06, 2008, 07:52:27 PM
which du pre recording of the cello concerto do you prefer, barenboim or barbirolli?

and what is your favorite recording of the violin concerto?

thanks:)

For the CC, if you ask 10 people, 10 of them will tell you to go with Barbriolli.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: (poco) Sforzando on February 06, 2008, 07:56:51 PM
and what is your favorite recording of the violin concerto?

Haven't heard it yet myself, but I've been hearing a lot of good things about the Ehnes/Davies.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: PerfectWagnerite on February 06, 2008, 08:08:44 PM
For the CC, if you ask 10 people, 10 of them will tell you to go with Barbriolli.
Barbriolli? Never heard of him. Sounds Italian, didn't know Jacky recorded anything with an Italian conductor.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Bonehelm on February 06, 2008, 08:14:06 PM
Barbriolli? Never heard of him. Sounds Italian, didn't know Jacky recorded anything with an Italian conductor.

YOU NEVER HEARD OF JOHN BARBRIOLLI?

omg...the man has a lot of legendary recordings on EMI...like Mahler 9 for example...
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: (poco) Sforzando on February 06, 2008, 08:21:55 PM
Barbriolli? Never heard of him. Sounds Italian, didn't know Jacky recorded anything with an Italian conductor.

Then possibly you've heard of Sir John Barbirolli, who despite his last name was British through and through.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Hector on February 08, 2008, 06:46:47 AM
Then possibly you've heard of Sir John Barbirolli, who despite his last name was British through and through.

You are wasting your time as this is a guy who has no idea where his pseudonym originated!

I'm not telling him. He can find out for himself that it was coined by a famous Socialist playwright!
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: (poco) Sforzando on February 08, 2008, 07:07:11 AM
You are wasting your time as this is a guy who has no idea where his pseudonym originated!

I'm not telling him. He can find out for himself that it was coined by a famous Socialist playwright!

Well, pshaw to that!
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Sergeant Rock on February 08, 2008, 07:18:41 AM
You are wasting your time as this is a guy who has no idea where his pseudonym originated!

Like PW, I never heard of Barbriolli either  ;D  We're both quite familiar with Barbirolli though.

Well, pshaw to that!

 ;D :D ;D

Sarge
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: PerfectWagnerite on February 08, 2008, 07:19:02 AM
You are wasting your time as this is a guy who has no idea where his pseudonym originated!

I'm not telling him. He can find out for himself that it was coined by a famous Socialist playwright!
Why should I care? That bothers you? Does that make you mad?
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on May 31, 2008, 11:47:46 PM
(http://img76.imageshack.us/img76/1013/61knec63j8lsl500aa240wk3.jpg) (http://imageshack.us)

Last night I listened again this (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Elgar-Light-Life-Sir-Edward/dp/B000000ASX/ref=sr_1_15?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1212308956&sr=1-15) recording of Elgar's The Light of Life, Op. 29.

This oratorio finished in 1896 is the prelude to the The Apostles and The Kingdom oratorios and shows Elgar's genius starting to blossom. It's shorter (60 minutes), less complex and lighter. It is a good starting point if you want to explore Elgar's choral works. Hickox's performance is wonderful. Highly recommended CD!
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Lethevich on August 23, 2008, 06:04:26 AM
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51CZFK6H0PL._SL500_AA240_.jpg)

Sonata for Violin and Piano in E minor
Very easy melodious exercises in the first position
Salut d'amour, 'Liebesgrüss'
Mot d'amour, 'Liebesahnung'
Canto popolare
Sospiri
Chanson de nuit
Chanson de matin

Does this disc have any competition as a collection of odds and ends? The main reason I would buy it was for the non-sonata violin material, and of that, I would like as much as possible...
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on August 23, 2008, 09:33:04 AM
Lethe, if you want obscure Elgar violin material check Marat Bisengaliev's and Benjamin Frith's "Elgar: re-discovered works for violin" volumes 1 & 2 on black box label. 
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Lethevich on August 23, 2008, 09:51:35 AM
Lethe, if you want obscure Elgar violin material check Marat Bisengaliev's and Benjamin Frith's "Elgar: re-discovered works for violin" volumes 1 & 2 on black box label. 

Ooh that does sound better (more comprehensive) - I would imagine the sound quality will be much nicer as well, as the Kennedy disc is early digital. Thanks :)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on September 19, 2008, 10:43:45 AM
...as the Kennedy disc is early digital. Thanks :)

Late response, sorry.

Recorded in: St Georges Church, Bloomsbury, London 6,7 January 1984. I never realised that Kennedy recording is that old! I don't have it... ...those black box discs have good sound imo.

You're welcome!
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on September 19, 2008, 10:49:52 AM
Is that the Kennedy performance with Handley?
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on September 19, 2008, 12:16:45 PM
Is that the Kennedy performance with Handley?
We are talking about Elgar's music for violin and piano.

Nigel Kennedy violin
Peter Pettinger piano
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on September 19, 2008, 03:35:59 PM
Thanks for the clarification, Poju!  :D
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Martin Lind on November 01, 2008, 07:06:48 PM
Since yesterday I have this inexpensive set:

(http://www.musicweb-international.com/classRev/2007/Oct07/Elgar_Collectors_5036032.jpg)

I had to wait 25 days for this set.

I have already some good things from Elgar. 1st symphony Judd, 2nd symphony Downes, also the 3rd, the three oratories, two recordings of the violin concerto, Cello concerto, Enigma variations, piano quintett, Falstaff, one CD with shorter pieces,  and some other stuff.

So I have already some things from Elgar, but this was a good offer and I am glad that I bought it. I love Elgar alot and I simply can't understand why so many people talk derogatorily of Elgar. His music is noble, has a genuine beauty and touches your heart. Not everything will be of the very first order, but still this is very great music.

I am very glad that I have got this box and am able to explore some more Elgar or hear some other recordings of works which I already love. I already heard the Enigma variations with Barbirolli and like that more than Jochum, the cello concerto with Jaquline du Pres is glorious and I also liked the seapictures with Janet Baker, the Pomp und Circumstances and the serenade. I knew all these works before but liked the recordings from this box, all Barbirolli which I didn't know.

Regards
Martin
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on November 02, 2008, 03:34:38 AM
Martin, it's nice to see somebody else to stand behind Elgar. Ever since I found Elgar's music 12 years ago I have been sad/frustrated to see how few us Elgarians are and how belittled this awesome composer is among many fans of classical music.

I already own many of the CDs included in this boxset but I think someday I will purchase it anyway.  0:)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Martin Lind on November 02, 2008, 09:12:05 AM
Well, nobody has to love Elgar. If you don't like him, that's alright. You can also despise Beethoven and Bach. The only thing which sometimes disturbes me is some kind of "argumentation". For example, Elgar is only an English composer, held only in high regard in England for he is kind of a national monument but without importance for other people. Or he is a typical example of "the Victorian era" but somehow "oldfashioned", maybe even "imperialistic" and therefore without importance for today. I don't like it if people are arguing that way. We should talk about music not about all these pictures of Elgar which are so popular but definetely misleading.

But another question. Are there sources in the internet where I can read the English texts of Elgars works? As I am no native speaker it is difficult for me to follow the word meaning of oratories, songs and all that. The Emibox - though a splendid bargain - leaves you completely alone with this. I would be very gratefull, to know some texts.

Otherwise I would be glad, if this thread could become some kind of "listening companion" for my further exploration of Elgars works.

Another interesting question is, wether this 30 CD box of Elgar really completely covers the works of Elgar - obviously not - but what is missing?

Regards
Martin
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Kuhlau on November 02, 2008, 10:47:15 AM
Another interesting question is, wether this 30 CD box of Elgar really completely covers the works of Elgar - obviously not - but what is missing?

I think you'll find this helpful, Martin. :)

Chronology of Elgar's compositions (http://www.elgar.org/3chronol.htm)

FK
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on November 02, 2008, 11:05:28 AM
Another interesting question is, wether this 30 CD box of Elgar really completely covers the works of Elgar - obviously not - but what is missing?

Regards
Martin

It does not cover everything. Elgar has tons of obscure/unfinished works that can be found "elaborated" elsewhere. Elgar wrote about 40 CDs worth of music so this boxset covers about 75 %.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Martin Lind on November 03, 2008, 04:15:27 AM
Thank you for your help and your response. Well I still miss the texts of Elgars works, I hope I can find them somewhere, the search for this in the internet was without success.

Listened alot to my Elgarbox the recent days - marvelous. I simply can't understand why this composer isn't estimated higher. I find in Elgar this simple and subtle, shy, touching beauty which I find in Brahms, this is why I really love Elgar. He is no Brahms clone of course, in many aspects he is quite differant, but he has that tone which is why he so stands out.

I can't understand that he is not regarded higher in Germany where he has his fans of course but you find alot stupid remarks too. I don't know why he is so terribly English, I think all this as a matter of fact damages his reputation, he should be regarded more as a composer of international importance with English origin.

And then I read the text of the back of my Emibox that Elgar is heard for "national rejoice". Well why not, why not listening to Elgar for "national rejoice", I will not judge that, but I would have prefered a text which would have emphasized the fact that Elgar is loved by many people in the world. Or even better no text of that kind at all. Though there is still much misunderstanding I think that better times for Elgar will come. Also abroad. And in my opinion he is certainly better and more important than alot composers who are regarded higher in the moment.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: knight66 on November 03, 2008, 02:10:33 PM
Here is a source for the libretto of Dream of Gerontius.

http://www.elgar.org/3gerontl.htm

Mike
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Guido on November 03, 2008, 06:05:27 PM
I may have just ordered the box (30 CDs), along with the Vaughan Williams box (30 CDs) and the 65 CD Beethoven one too... Looking forward to it!
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on November 04, 2008, 09:03:00 AM
Listened alot to my Elgarbox the recent days - marvelous. I simply can't understand why this composer isn't estimated higher. I find in Elgar this simple and subtle, shy, touching beauty which I find in Brahms, this is why I really love Elgar. He is no Brahms clone of course, in many aspects he is quite differant, but he has that tone which is why he so stands out.

Personally I find Elgar's music much more colourful but I agree about the similarities, especially in chamber music.

I can't understand that he is not regarded higher in Germany where he has his fans of course but you find alot stupid remarks too. I don't know why he is so terribly English, I think all this as a matter of fact damages his reputation, he should be regarded more as a composer of international importance with English origin.

Elgar happens to be just one of many composers who aren't regarded highly enough.

And then I read the text of the back of my Emibox that Elgar is heard for "national rejoice". Well why not, why not listening to Elgar for "national rejoice", I will not judge that, but I would have prefered a text which would have emphasized the fact that Elgar is loved by many people in the world. Or even better no text of that kind at all. Though there is still much misunderstanding I think that better times for Elgar will come. Also abroad. And in my opinion he is certainly better and more important than alot composers who are regarded higher in the moment.

National rejoice is marketing mambo jambo. Elgar is my favorite composer. I used to be aggressive promoting him but I have seen it isn't the way. Now I am careful about what I say. I hope you are right about the better times.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on November 04, 2008, 09:05:53 AM
Personally I find Elgar's music much more colourful but I agree about the similarities, especially in chamber music.

I find Elgar's concerti generally more colorful than Brahms;  but for the symphonies, I think Brahms has a better-defined pallette.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Kuhlau on November 04, 2008, 09:09:26 AM
I find Elgar's concerti generally more colorful than Brahms;  but for the symphonies, I think Brahms has a better-defined pallette.

I'd certainly concur with this. There's much to admire in (at least) Elgar's First Symphony. But when placed alongside any symphony by Brahms, Elgar's symphonic output does seem to pale.

FK
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on November 04, 2008, 09:11:46 AM
I really enjoy Elgar's symphonies. Perhaps I just don't get Brahms because I don't find his symphonies even near those of Elgar.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Kuhlau on November 04, 2008, 09:16:31 AM
The key to Brahms' symphonies is all in the interpretation, IMO. If you're struggling to appreciate their colour, shape and both their intricacies and their broader sweep, Solti's famous Decca set might be just the ticket.

But now I'm taking us OT. ;)

FK
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Martin Lind on November 05, 2008, 05:12:20 AM
Elgar is my favorite composer. I used to be aggressive promoting him but I have seen it isn't the way. Now I am careful about what I say. I hope you are right about the better times.


Well there is certainly no use to promote Elgar "aggressively". On the other hand Elgar bashing is sometimes really stupid. If you don't like Elgar OK but it is enervating to fight against all this misguiding images of Elgar. Just listen to Elgar, at least to his very best works and make up your mind. But if you have already a bad image of Elgar you will find nothing than your prejudices. And Elgar is not simple, for example in the symphonies where there is so much "information" and "development" and nothing goes an easy way, as a matter of fact Elgar is challenging which you wouldn't expect if you would know nothing than the Pomp and Circumstances. By the way I am not analytic. I can't analyse Elgar. But I think if you listen to Elgars symphonies at the first time, many things will make "no sense" to you and this is a normal reaction. You must know Elgar a bit better if you really want to appriciate him. This is why Elgar is challenging. It may be even more challenging to analyse his works but this is something I can't judge.

By the way I listened to Elgars symphonies with Barbirolli and liked the 1st, maybe more than Judd, but I didn't like the second where I prefer the Downes. I am glad that you like the Downes too. This is a splendid recording.

But after all: Everybody is responsible for himselve. Therefore when you miss Elgar it's your own fault. I am glad that I haven't missed Elgar!
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Kuhlau on November 05, 2008, 06:41:57 AM
And Elgar is not simple, for example in the symphonies where there is so much "information" and "development" and nothing goes an easy way ...

One possible explanation for this might be that Elgar was self-taught. Given that he went without the benefit of formal compositional training, is it tenable that this had an impact on his musical language?

FK
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on November 05, 2008, 09:27:18 AM
Well there is certainly no use to promote Elgar "aggressively".

I have learned that the hard way.  :P

And Elgar is not simple, for example in the symphonies where there is so much "information" and "development" and nothing goes an easy way, as a matter of fact Elgar is challenging which you wouldn't expect if you would know nothing than the Pomp and Circumstances.

I have been talking about Elgar's complexity a lot. Unfortunately it has ended in jokes about "vibrational fields". Some people have admitted there's something in Elgar after listening to his music more carefully. Some other people won't admit Elgar's greatness no matter what. We all are entitled to our opinions of course.

By the way I am not analytic. I can't analyse Elgar.

I "analyse" Elgar in my own way, the way I analyse all music.

But I think if you listen to Elgars symphonies at the first time, many things will make "no sense" to you and this is a normal reaction. You must know Elgar a bit better if you really want to appriciate him. This is why Elgar is challenging. It may be even more challenging to analyse his works but this is something I can't judge.

The first time I heard Elgar's symphonies they made sense but there was a lot things that revealed themselves during further listening. The key to Elgar's music is the understanding of quiet passages. They are amazingly rich, there's so much "vibrations" going on. That's one thing I admire in Elgar. The music is always rich no matter how loud or quiet it is. It's like looking into a forest. You see some trees near you and those trees look large. You also see many "smaller" trees in the distance, behind each other. A layered structure of depth is created. But that's just me with my trees and "vibrational fields."  ;D

By the way I listened to Elgars symphonies with Barbirolli and liked the 1st, maybe more than Judd, but I didn't like the second where I prefer the Downes. I am glad that you like the Downes too. This is a splendid recording.

But after all: Everybody is responsible for himselve. Therefore when you miss Elgar it's your own fault. I am glad that I haven't missed Elgar!

Shockingly, I haven't heard Barbirolli's takes of these symphonies. I think the 2nd symphony is misunderstood by many. I find it one of the most sophisticated works of Elgar. Sophisticated is so good word to describe that symphony! Perhaps Barbirolli didn't get 100 % of it after all?

One possible explanation for this might be that Elgar was self-taught. Given that he went without the benefit of formal compositional training, is it tenable that this had an impact on his musical language?

FK

I have never undertood this obsession of formal composition. Isn't formal often boring? I think the real difference between Elgar and so called formal composers is the length of time segments of influences.  Elgar's influences are heavily rooted in composers such as J. S. Bach, Handel, Beethoven but also Berlioz and Brahms. Elgar is not "formal" in sense of certain time period or style but is a (brilliant) combination of many styles of different times. Yes, Elgar was self-taught but that's not a weakness. He found his strenghts and created his own rich "multiformal" style.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on November 05, 2008, 09:39:14 AM
. . . Some people have admitted there's something in Elgar after listening to his music more carefully. Some other people won't admit Elgar's greatness no matter what.

And then, some of us find some patches of Elgar's oeuvre greater than other patches.  I don't think the symphonies are that great.  The concerti, and Falstaff:  these are great.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Kuhlau on November 05, 2008, 09:52:25 AM
I have never undertood this obsession of formal composition. Isn't formal often boring? Elgar is not "formal" in sense of certain time period or style but is a (brilliant) combination of many styles of different times. Yes, Elgar was self-taught but that's not a weakness. He found his strenghts and created his own rich "multiformal" style.

I meant 'formal' as in according with established forms, conventions and requirements. Many other great composers - greater than Elgar, certainly - received formal compositional training, and I hardly think we can say that much of the writing of Boccherini, Beethoven, Brahms or Britten (to select a few composers beginning with 'B') is 'often boring'.

As to the concept of Elgar's music as 'multiformal', I'm afraid I don't follow you. You'll need to explain in more detail.

FK
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on November 05, 2008, 09:56:56 AM
I meant 'formal' as in according with established forms, conventions and requirements.

And — not to get too repetitive — I find Elgar's concerti (& Falstaff) examples of a fine artist creatively re-thinking traditional form, genre and conventions, in ways I find disappointingly absent from the symphonies.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Wanderer on November 05, 2008, 12:01:32 PM
I don't think the symphonies are that great.

Karl, I was always puzzled by the fact that although I never really cared for the Second Symphony, I nevertheless find the First to be among the most convincing utterances of the genre. So, I agree with you - literally -  half-heartedly!  ;D
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on November 05, 2008, 12:07:20 PM
Cool. Not cool.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Wanderer on November 05, 2008, 12:33:00 PM
Cool. Not cool.

Which one loves the First, now?  ;)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Kuhlau on November 05, 2008, 02:10:24 PM
Talk of Elgar's symphonies has me listening again to No. 1 - arguably the finest of his three.

The recording I've selected from the four or five in my collection is this one:

(http://cover6.cduniverse.com/MuzeAudioArt/Large/18/480418.jpg)

Elder and the Halle Orchestra (an earlier line-up of which give this work its premiere) seem to me to be right on the money with this symphony. All of the ... shall we say 'complexity'? ... of this work is clearly articulated in very good sound; much better, at least, than the Naxos recording with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of George Hurst. This is a thoughtful rendition, intelligently shaped and concerned with ensuring that soloists, where they appear, get the attention they deserve. Certainly, it has more colour than most of the other versions I've heard. And I agree with Wanderer that this is, indeed, a convincing utterance.

FK
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: drogulus on November 05, 2008, 02:33:34 PM

     Falstaff is an astonishing work.

     I didn't warm to the 2nd symphony right away. It took a trip to England in the early '90s, after which I listened to the symphony and everything just clicked. It was a typical example of musical meaning arriving by a circuitous route.

     The comparison of Elgar and Brahms is a natural one, especially since Symphony No. 2 seems to have some relation to Brahms 3 (in my mind, anyway). He's really closer to Strauss and Mahler, though. Falstaff is certainly quite Straussian.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Kuhlau on November 05, 2008, 02:46:17 PM
The comparison of Elgar and Brahms is a natural one, especially since Symphony No. 2 seems to have some relation to Brahms 3 (in my mind, anyway).

Really? That's some mind you have there. ;D

I hear these two symphonies as differently as a wind chime and an obnoxiously loud car. One puts me at my ease, the other grates on me. I'm too charitable to say which does which. ;)

FK
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: drogulus on November 05, 2008, 04:32:01 PM
Kuhlau, I think there is something grating about the 2nd symphony. In fact I've only found one version that I can really totally endorse. Neither the Barbirolli nor the Slatkin are convincing, and in fact I don't even want to hear them. Perhaps this symphony needs nothing less than a perfect interpretation. If so the Handley/LPO is just that:

     [mp3=200,20,0,center]http://www.fileden.com/files/2007/11/2/1559968/1%20Allegro%20vivace%20e%20nobilmente.mp3[/mp3]

     Someone put this symphony on their 100 best list. If I made a list this one would be on it, and so would the Rachmaninov 2nd, so I should make a list of Most Disparaged Great Symphonies. Then everyone can fire away. :) (lime green is the color of Grateness :P)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on November 05, 2008, 04:45:41 PM
     Falstaff is an astonishing work.

Aye, it is.  I thought the Naxos recording a dud.  At least, from that recording, I got a lackluster impression of the piece, which I was nonetheless sure was misleading.  Here again, Elder and the Hallé have saved the day . . . .

Quote from: Ernie
     I didn't warm to the 2nd symphony right away. It took a trip to England in the early '90s, after which I listened to the symphony and everything just clicked. It was a typical example of musical meaning arriving by a circuitous route.

Always glad to hear such stories.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Kuhlau on November 05, 2008, 04:51:46 PM
Prompted (and a bit puzzled) by drogulus' interesting association of the Brahms Third Symphony and the Elgar Second, I've spent this evening listening again to both. What I think threw me about his remark was that he prefaced it by suggesting a natural comparison between the two composers. I've always heard them as quite distinct, so my fresh listening has been an interesting exercise.

While the Brahms Third Symphony seems perfectly balanced, beautifully proportioned (almost classically so) and brimming with memorable musical ideas, the Elgar Second teems with competitive writing for different sections in its first movement, smacks of imperialist pomp (again, in the first movement), and seems to drift - nay, meander - as though directionless for much of its 56 or so minutes. The larghetto second movement of the Elgar is quite something, but it pales fast when set beside the stunning third movement of the Brahms. At the last, I had to ask myself, 'Which symphony lingers longer in the memory?' Needless to say, the Elgar didn't win that race.

But hey, at least some people love the Elgar Second in its entirety. I'm sure a musicologist could point out lots of reasons why this work deserves our attention. However, I want it to reach me emotionally before I approach it intellectually. In which case, bring on the analysis of the Brahms ...

FK
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: drogulus on November 05, 2008, 05:01:51 PM
     Karl, I have a Naxos recording of The Dream of Gerontius that would induce narcolepsy in 60 sec. Then I got the Barbirolli with Lewis and Baker and Elgar suddenly became a great composer!!  ;D

     Kuhlau, I guess Elgar will have to be put in the "imperialist pomp" subdivision of great music, complete with warning label. Sometimes even I shrink from the "elegy for the vanishing good old days" element, but I also recognize that part of the charge against Elgar here is how well he evokes these feelings. That's part of the indictment that doesn't get expressed often enough, I think. Elgar make people feel things they would rather not. Usually that's to a composer's credit, but in this case it works against him.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Martin Lind on November 05, 2008, 05:02:48 PM
Well strangely me and Fastaff aren't yet friends. But this may change. I have Naxos, but Barbirolli is still ahead.  As I have heard now Naxos should be bad.  I think Elgar is a difficult composer. The violin concerto is wonderful but a bit lengthy. But maybe this opinion will change. Wether Elgar is the greatest composer of all times or not istn't anything which I am really concerned about. He is one of the greatest which I love that's for sure.

The point is still that he is not an easy composer. He has his own style and methods. That's why he is interesting. And his symphonies are very interesting. It is the same thing like Bruckner. Bruckner is his own man and it lasts some time before you can really appreciate his symphonies. The same thing goes for Elgar.

I can't understand how one cannot love the 2nd symphony ( with Downes). The whole piece is very interesting, although the very beginning is less promising at first sight but there are moments of pure magic ( this wonderfull theme in the first set after the beginning and other things).

Today I listened to the Apostles which I of course new before. I admit sometimes he is a bit lengthy but there are wonderful moments. As a whole I like it but can't listen to it any time. And I would love to have the text.

I admit in Elgar there may be moments who are weaker. From this point of view there may be other composers, say Sibelius who appear "much more important". But the point is: Elgars music is often very noble and sometimes pure magic. The best Elgar is something beyond praise. This music is beautifull and noble and this noblesse you find rarely elsewhere and this is the point that Elgar is - at least from a certain point of view - a very great composer. But he may not be a perfect composer. I guess he is a composer with weaknesses and strengths. But the strengths are much more important than the weaknesses.

The point is: Elgar is sometimes very noble and then he is on the other hand much less so. You can disgust that or you can like it. I like it. That's simply Elgar. Brahms on the other hand could more distinguish "light wight stuff" or "serious music". So his best music has not only a nobility of content but also a nobility of style. Elgar on the other hand is more problematic but maybe also more colourfull. I like that. Though I cannot always listen to music of Edward Elgar.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Kuhlau on November 05, 2008, 05:12:11 PM
That Elgar evokes uncomfortable feelings (particularly for the British) of a dark past chapter is actually to his credit, I'd say. Even history's less desirable periods need their soundtrack, and Elgar has provided perhaps the best one of all for the British Empire.

Martin, I listened to the Downes recording this evening, but it still doesn't hit home (and this wasn't my first hearing, either). Could it be that I need Elder and the Halle Orchestra to illuminate the Second Symphony for me, as they've previously done with the First?

FK
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: drogulus on November 05, 2008, 06:01:17 PM


    Yes, I can imagine the day that even the British themselves will appreciate their semi-glorious past. :D :P $:) >:D
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on November 05, 2008, 06:02:04 PM
     Karl, I have a Naxos recording of The Dream of Gerontius that would induce narcolepsy in 60 sec. Then I got the Barbirolli with Lewis and Baker and Elgar suddenly became a great composer!!  ;D

Oof, that sounds like another Naxos disc to actively avoid, Ernie;  that Barbirolli recording is superb.

Kuhlau:  There's rather a Brahms-ish but in the fourth movement of the Elgar First, don't you think?  Overall it's not a particularly Brahmsian work, but that one stretch . . . .
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Martin Lind on November 05, 2008, 06:18:54 PM
That Elgar evokes uncomfortable feelings (particularly for the British) of a dark past chapter is actually to his credit, I'd say. Even history's less desirable periods need their soundtrack, and Elgar has provided perhaps the best one of all for the British Empire.


Frankly I don't know enough about Elgar to judge that. He may have been a patriot, but all composers of that time were somehow patriots. Tschaikovski Overture 1816, Sibelius Finlandia, Bruckners Helgoland is a bizarre thing, Debussy ran out of the hall when Mahler was played ( "sound like Schubert") and so on and so on. Maybe even Brahms did things like that, I don't know. Wagners antisemitism weighs much more than the patriotism of Elgar who lived maybe in a surrounding where he had no choice not to be a patriot. Who in the whole Europe was not a patriot at that time? As it is known today appearently "all" people ran into WW1 with complete enthusiasm - nobody understands that today.

Of course when Elgar at the back of this box should be heard for "national rejoice" ( as I do know now from my Emibox) this must provoke uncomfortable feelings between British people who don't see the British empire as "land of hope and glory". The point is that maybe there are British people for whom the British empire never has ended and they are still very proud on this empire though it sadly ended. But this is not the fault of Elgar. And you shouldn't overlook the fact that Elgar was a Catholic in England. This is something too easily overlooked today. A minority in the United Kingdom. And Catholicism is also an Empire of some kind and I am sure that this empire was very important for Elgar though he was certainly not in a situation to emphasize that fact.  For me as a Catholic Elgars Catholicism is very important to understand the man. But maybe I should once read a good biography about Elgar, I know too little. Wagners antisemitism was a personal thing not to be forgiven, Elgar on the other hand maybe simply a child of his time, something you should not judge. How would we have acted in such a surrounding? And maybe a Catholic in England must especially emphasize the fact that he is a good patriot.

The most important point: Elgars music is so much more than just a "soundtrack for the British empire", really. And that's what ultimately counts.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Kuhlau on November 06, 2008, 01:18:47 AM
The most important point: Elgars music is so much more than just a "soundtrack for the British empire", really. And that's what ultimately counts.

Rest assured, Martin, that I'm not suggesting everything from Elgar's pen constitutes such a soundtrack. Nonetheless, a good deal of his more popular works do have a seam of pomp running through them.

FK
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Kuhlau on November 06, 2008, 01:20:42 AM
Kuhlau:  There's rather a Brahms-ish but in the fourth movement of the Elgar First, don't you think?  Overall it's not a particularly Brahmsian work, but that one stretch . . .

Granted, there's more than a passing similarity. Unintentional? Probably not. Elgar was an admirer of the Germanic school, as I understand things.

FK
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on November 06, 2008, 02:11:18 AM
Frankly I don't know enough about Elgar to judge that. He may have been a patriot, but all composers of that time were somehow patriots. Tschaikovski Overture 1816, Sibelius Finlandia, Bruckners Helgoland is a bizarre thing, Debussy ran out of the hall when Mahler was played ( "sound like Schubert") and so on and so on. Maybe even Brahms did things like that, I don't know.

I know - he did. The 'Triumphlied' (Song of Triumph) in celebration of the German victory over the French in 1871. It seems to one his best choral pieces.

http://www.musicwithease.com/brahms-triumphlied.html
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Kuhlau on November 06, 2008, 02:34:26 AM
Thanks for the site link, Jezetha. A handy resource. :)

FK
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Grazioso on November 06, 2008, 05:17:04 AM
As something of an Anglophile, with a fascination for the Victorian and Edwardian eras, those supposedly negative things which Elgar's music evokes--or even celebrates--are actually draws for me :) God save the Queen!  ;D

I just started digging deeper into Elgar's music recently after a very superficial acquaintance going back some years, and my more immediate impressions are not those of dated jingoism, but rather of a) how the works do indeed seem to meander (and I emphasize "seem" since I haven't yet studied them in depth) and b) how thrusting, red-blooded, and muscular his work can sound. The massive, surging sounds of his orchestra are quite striking, with all the low brass, rumbling percussion, and massed strings.

Whatever Elgar's relative worth might be, I'll say that I've been having fun exploring his oeuvre.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Kuhlau on November 06, 2008, 05:24:09 AM
The 'meandering' of Elgar puts me in mind of a similar penchant exhibited by Delius - the latter composer perhaps more prone to go a-wandering in his compositions. Lovers of Delius tell me I'm missing something significant. Maybe if I could get past the apparent waywardness of his music I'd appreciate it more. Vaulting the same hurdle in Elgar's music might also eliminate my partial resistence to some of his claimed charms.

FK
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Martin Lind on November 06, 2008, 08:52:27 AM
From Wikipedia:

Quote
He himself grew to hate his 'Pomp and Circumstance' March No.1 with its popular tune (identified as 'Land of Hope and Glory' when the words were later added), which he felt had been made into a jingoistic song, not in keeping with the tragic loss of life in the war[citation needed]. This was captured in the film Elgar by Ken Russell.

Has anybody seen the film? Or does he know a good book about Elgar? I guess I will not find a German one in the library but there must be English ones.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on November 06, 2008, 09:11:40 AM
From Wikipedia:

Well might it say "[citation needed]"; a set of marches (marches, for crumbs' sake!), bearing the title Pomp and Circumstance, and written in the first decade of the 20th century, is not a protest against the tragedy of war.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on November 06, 2008, 11:39:16 AM
To my understanding Elgar was very much anti-war. He was very sad about the war against Germany because he was a very good friend of Richard Strauss.

Ken Russell's Elgar is a mediocre TV movie of the composer. I think it gives a good picture of Elgar as a person, certainly much better than most people have of him. The DVD has very nice extra material.

I have Percy Young's Elgar O.M. book. It's old but informative.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: drogulus on November 06, 2008, 11:49:54 AM


      I have to admit that I love The Music Makers, which is the greatest hits medley, especially with Janet Baker singing. He weaves together themes from the Violin Concerto, both symphonies, The Dream of Gerontius, and the Enigma Variations. It's really beautifully done.   



Has anybody seen the film? Or does he know a good book about Elgar? I guess I will not find a German one in the library but there must be English ones.

     I haven't seen the film. For books I'd look for the Michael Kennedy bio:

     (http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41HHGQ296FL._SL500_BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-dp-500-arrow,TopRight,45,-64_OU02_AA240_SH20_.jpg)

     I haven't read the Diana McVeagh book:

     (http://www.musicweb-international.com/classRev/2007/July07/Elgar_Mcveagh.jpg)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on November 06, 2008, 11:57:40 AM
      I have to admit that I love The Music Makers, which is the greatest hits medley, especially with Janet Baker singing. He weaves together themes from the Violin Concerto, both symphonies, The Dream of Gerontius, and the Enigma Variations. It's really beautifully done.

I like it fine, too!
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: knight66 on November 06, 2008, 12:29:06 PM
I am surprised. Even though I really do like Elgar a lot, I think that piece is a right rag-bag. It seems to have little shape, a sort of suite of greatest hits.

I note the Ken Russell film gets short shrift. Pretty much regarded as a masterpiece of its kind elsewhere.

Mike
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: drogulus on November 06, 2008, 02:46:52 PM
I am surprised. Even though I really do like Elgar a lot, I think that piece is a right rag-bag. It seems to have little shape, a sort of suite of greatest hits.

Mike

     I'm not making any claims for TMM. Call it kitsch if you want, and it's certainly lesser Elgar. I like it anyway, because I have bad taste. 8)

     
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on November 06, 2008, 05:16:43 PM
Oh, sure, Ernie: throw me under the bus!  8)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Guido on November 06, 2008, 05:48:06 PM
     I'm not making any claims for TMM. Call it kitsch if you want, and it's certainly lesser Elgar. I like it anyway, because I have bad taste. 8)     

I just found it horrendously dull and pointless - every piece he uses is made worse by the new arrangement... that said, I have only heard it live once, in King's college chapel. Maybe I should give it another listen when my 30 CD boxed set arrives! Is that much Elgar healthy for one person?
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on November 07, 2008, 12:59:40 AM
I have only 2 performances of The Music Makers, Op. 69

Felicity Palmer / London Symphony Orchestra + Chorus / Richard Hickox / EMI

Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra / Simon Wright / Naxos


I prever the former but it's the first performance I heard of this work so maybe that's why.

The work itself isn't Elgar's best but I find it awesome nevertheless. It's pure Elgar magic!  0:)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on November 07, 2008, 04:25:33 AM
Fair to call it a comparatively modest work . . . sort of a salon-choral work, maybe.  I enjoy it as a sort of 'autobiographical quodlibet'.  It's no Shostakovich Fifteenth, but, hey . . . .
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Hector on November 07, 2008, 06:36:12 AM
I am surprised. Even though I really do like Elgar a lot, I think that piece is a right rag-bag. It seems to have little shape, a sort of suite of greatest hits.

I note the Ken Russell film gets short shrift. Pretty much regarded as a masterpiece of its kind elsewhere.

Mike

Agreed, but isn't it fun spotting where the quote is from?

There is always someone, somewhere ready and not-so-able to rubbish dear old Ken Russell but that drama-doc led to a revival of interest in the composer that prompted EMI to give us all those Barbirolli recordings!

His film was one of the first of its kind.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Martin Lind on November 08, 2008, 10:03:54 PM
As I now possess the Elgar box I would love to have some talk about the works included in this box.

For example I listened to Caractacus ( on two CDs) and I was not very much impressed, I didn't like that very much. I listened then to The Banner of St George and choral works and I found these better although not overwhelmed. A fourth CD with Orchestral Works and Marches was partly fine but sometimes a bit bombastic.

So lets talk about Elgar and his work, now I have this box and listen to it but always appreciate it, if one can talk about music and there are certainly some Elgarians who could guide me through this big box.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on November 09, 2008, 01:49:44 AM
For example I listened to Caractacus ( on two CDs) and I was not very much impressed, I didn't like that very much.

Caractacus isn't one of Elgar's best works but I still enjoy it very much. I have Hickox on Chandos. Can you tell what didn't you like about it?

I listened then to The Banner of St George and choral works and I found these better although not overwhelmed.

Again, these are not the greatest Elgar works. For me it's rare not to be overwhelmed by Elgar. Perhaps you are expecting too much? Music gives more when you relax and just let it reveal itself.

A fourth CD with Orchestral Works and Marches was partly fine but sometimes a bit bombastic.

Elgar's style is bombastic (he's not Debussy!  ;D ) and marches are bombastic by nature so you should expect Elgar's marches be bombastic. To be honest, marches are among the least interesting works of Elgar. I don't listen to them that often. If I want to hear bombastic march music, Elgar is the man.  0:)

So lets talk about Elgar and his work, now I have this box and listen to it but always appreciate it, if one can talk about music and there are certainly some Elgarians who could guide me through this big box.

I don't know if I can guide you through that big box. I have about half of it as separate releases. I recommend this: Concentrate on one disc/work at the time and listen to it several times. Elgar's music tend to reveal itself better that way. Don't expect to be blown away. Elgar's music touches us in subtle and profound ways. I have always felt that Elgar's art is more than just music. It's some kind of "awareness" or "spirit" and the music is how it sounds. What you hear is the entrance to this mental state. Trust Elgar as a composer. Be a humble listener and you will be blown away. You should spend months going through the box or you are too fast. Patience!
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Tapio Dimitriyevich Shostakovich on November 09, 2008, 05:14:18 AM
Martin, have you already listened to the lovely Sospiri?

What's the solution of the Dorabella Cipher (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorabella_Cipher) btw? :D

(http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/de/1/10/Dorabella_Chiffre.gif)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: drogulus on November 09, 2008, 05:43:48 AM
Oh, sure, Ernie: throw me under the bus!  8)

     No, Karl, you like it because you have good taste.  ::)

     Caractacus is undone by the usual Elgar problems, an inadequate text with a downright embarrassing (patriotic bluster) ending which I understand was cut from some performances.

     (http://img255.imageshack.us/img255/7421/clipboard01rh8.jpg)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on November 09, 2008, 06:06:49 AM
I'll stick my neck out and say - I love Elgar's Second. The First is wonderful, but the Second is deeper. I think it's a rather tragic work. In the first movement (Allegro vivace e nobilmente) I don't hear imperialist, Edwardian pomp at all, but anxiety and nervousness. The motto of the work is Shelley's line 'Rarely comest thou, spirit of Delight', and you (I) can hear the strenuous striving for it - or a strenuous trying to hold on to it - all through the first movement. The second movement, Larghetto, is melancholy and yearning, whereas the Rondo: Presto third movement seems to unleash, in the Trio, all the pent-up anger and frustration. In the final movement, Moderato and maestoso, Elgar seems to attain some sort of serenity or resignation, with the opening gesture of the work dissolving before our ears. It is here where Elgar's Second indeed resembles Brahms's Third, where the same thing occurs in its final bars.

In defense of Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance marches: it is wrong to project our own disillusioned experiences and assumptions into the past. Elgar wrote most of his marches before WWI. They are ceremonial, patriotic works like many many other composers in those days wrote (e.g. Sousa, Johann Strauss, Wagner...) Elgar was shocked and disgusted by the First World War. His marches are not celebrations of carnage.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Tapio Dimitriyevich Shostakovich on November 09, 2008, 08:13:28 AM
Seems like I really have to listen to his Symphonies soon. :)

In defense of Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance marches: it is wrong to project our own disillusioned experiences and assumptions into the past. Elgar wrote most of his marches before WWI. They are ceremonial, patriotic works like many many other composers in those days wrote (e.g. Sousa, Johann Strauss, Wagner...) Elgar was shocked and disgusted by the First World War. His marches are not celebrations of carnage.
I couldn't care less, for the judgement about his music it is irrelevant if he was shocked by war or not. Even if he was [insert evil/politically incorrect attributes here]. There's his music, me, and my decision, if it could bring joy to my life. As easy as that. Period. The decision has been made: It does.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: drogulus on November 09, 2008, 08:48:05 AM
I'll stick my neck out and say - I love Elgar's Second. The First is wonderful, but the Second is deeper. I think it's a rather tragic work. In the first movement (Allegro vivace e nobilmente) I don't hear imperialist, Edwardian pomp at all, but anxiety and nervousness. The motto of the work is Shelley's line 'Rarely comest thou, spirit of Delight', and you (I) can hear the strenuous striving for it - or a strenuous trying to hold on to it - all through the first movement. The second movement, Larghetto, is melancholy and yearning, whereas the Rondo: Presto third movement seems to unleash, in the Trio, all the pent-up anger and frustration. In the final movement, Moderato and maestoso, Elgar seems to attain some sort of serenity or resignation, with the opening gesture of the work dissolving before our ears. It is here where Elgar's Second indeed resembles Brahms's Third, where the same thing occurs in its final bars.



    There are other resemblances, such as the theme at the start of the 4th movement, as well as a slight resemblance at the start of the first movement.

    The inner movements of the Elgar 2nd are remarkable. You need to listen to them a few times to absorb all they have to offer. I get the idea that the length of this symphony combined with a certain impatience with Elgar (you think you know what he's about) causes people to skate over some of the subtleties. This could be true of any composer but particularly so in a long work like this.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on November 09, 2008, 08:53:01 AM
I couldn't care less, for the judgement about his music it is irrelevant if he was shocked by war or not. Even if he was [insert evil/politically incorrect attributes here]. There's his music, me, and my decision, if it could bring joy to my life. As easy as that. Period. The decision has been made: It does.

I'm glad to hear it. But the question of art and morality is interesting. And this is what I tried to address.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Martin Lind on November 09, 2008, 11:10:28 AM

I don't know if I can guide you through that big box. I have about half of it as separate releases. I recommend this: Concentrate on one disc/work at the time and listen to it several times. Elgar's music tend to reveal itself better that way. Don't expect to be blown away. Elgar's music touches us in subtle and profound ways. I have always felt that Elgar's art is more than just music. It's some kind of "awareness" or "spirit" and the music is how it sounds. What you hear is the entrance to this mental state. Trust Elgar as a composer. Be a humble listener and you will be blown away. You should spend months going through the box or you are too fast. Patience!


Thank you for your advice. I will be patient, I confess. Still I say that there were works of Elgar which immidiatly or nearly imidiately stunned me. Some of these new works not. But I will be patient.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on November 09, 2008, 11:41:21 AM
 There are other resemblances, such as the theme at the start of the 4th movement, as well as a slight resemblance at the start of the first movement.

You're absolutely right.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: knight66 on November 09, 2008, 11:38:19 PM
Agreed, but isn't it fun spotting where the quote is from?

There is always someone, somewhere ready and not-so-able to rubbish dear old Ken Russell but that drama-doc led to a revival of interest in the composer that prompted EMI to give us all those Barbirolli recordings!

His film was one of the first of its kind.

Yes, and yes. I agree all the way. Russell caught the beauty of Elgar's work in visual terms. The slow galloping horses may seem a cliche now; but it was fresh then and clearly struck a chord with directors as they used it to death subsequently.

Mike
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Wanderer on November 10, 2008, 12:00:20 AM
I'll stick my neck out and say - I love Elgar's Second. The First is wonderful, but the Second is deeper. I think it's a rather tragic work. In the first movement (Allegro vivace e nobilmente) I don't hear imperialist, Edwardian pomp at all, but anxiety and nervousness. The motto of the work is Shelley's line 'Rarely comest thou, spirit of Delight', and you (I) can hear the strenuous striving for it - or a strenuous trying to hold on to it - all through the first movement. The second movement, Larghetto, is melancholy and yearning, whereas the Rondo: Presto third movement seems to unleash, in the Trio, all the pent-up anger and frustration. In the final movement, Moderato and maestoso, Elgar seems to attain some sort of serenity or resignation, with the opening gesture of the work dissolving before our ears. It is here where Elgar's Second indeed resembles Brahms's Third, where the same thing occurs in its final bars.

Do you have a favourite recording, Johan? I'm willing to give this work lots of chances (not that I don't like it feebly, mind).
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on November 10, 2008, 12:19:06 AM
Do you have a favourite recording, Johan? I'm willing to give this work lots of chances (not that I don't like it feebly, mind).

Sir Edward Downes with the BBC Philharmonic on Naxos is excellent, Tasos. You can't go wrong with Boult and the LPO either (on EMI; there is another on Lyrita which I still have to listen to).
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Wanderer on November 10, 2008, 12:37:45 AM
Sir Edward Downes with the BBC Philharmonic on Naxos is excellent, Tasos. You can't go wrong with Boult and the LPO either (on EMI; there is another on Lyrita which I still have to listen to).

You know, Downes was the one I had in mind when asking you. I'll try that. I was also thinking about Thomson/LPO on Chandos and Sinopoli/Philharmonia on DG (they both have conducted excellent Firsts). And Boult's always recommendable.

PS. Although in a piano mood lately, I might just listen to the Barbirolli later today.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on November 10, 2008, 12:39:51 AM
You know, Downes was the one I had in mind when asking you. I'll try that. I was also thinking about Thomson/LPO on Chandos and Sinopoli/Philharmonia on DG (they both have conducted excellent Firsts). And Boult's always recommendable.

PS. Although in a piano mood lately, I might just listen to the Barbirolli later today.

I am listening to Downes as we speak. It's good - good sound, tempi very natural, the orchestral playing terrific.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Tapio Dimitriyevich Shostakovich on November 10, 2008, 06:42:32 AM
My local library has Elgar Sym#1 with Colin Davis/Staatskapelle Dresden. Should I go and get it?

(http://www.semperopershop.de/out/oxbaseshop/html/0/dyn_images/1/303007_d1_p1.png)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Kuhlau on November 10, 2008, 07:23:12 AM
My local library has Elgar Sym#1 with Colin Davis/Staatskapelle Dresden. Should I go and get it?

(http://www.semperopershop.de/out/oxbaseshop/html/0/dyn_images/1/303007_d1_p1.png)

Yes. I have that recording and it's a very spirited live performance. ;)

FK
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on November 10, 2008, 08:24:35 AM
Yes. I have that recording and it's a very spirited live performance. ;)

FK

Yes yes!! Terrific performance!
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Guido on November 23, 2008, 03:17:48 PM
Have just started working through the 30CD EMI box - a daunting but enjoyable task. The first thing I have listened to is the beautiful string quartet, which I am surprised that I have never heard before. Why is this not played more often? It's not as if Elgar is particularly neglected in general here in lil' ol' England.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Kullervo on January 09, 2009, 06:13:08 PM
Found this interesting quote on Elgar, from a surprising source:

Also this year you talked of Elgar, and the newspapers said that he was ill.

If you see him will you present my constant pleasure in his music, whether human rendered or from my box? Nobody who makes sounds gets so inside my defences as he does, with his 2nd Symphony and Violin Concerto. Say that if the 3rd Symphony has gone forward from those, it will be a thrill to ever so many of us. He was inclined to grumble that the rewards of making music were not big, in the bank-book sense; but by now he should be seeing that bank-books will not interest him much longer. I feel more and more, as I grow older, the inclination to throw everything away and live on air. We all allow ourselves to need too much.


—T.E. Lawrence to Mrs Charlotte Shaw, August 23, 1933
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on January 09, 2009, 09:06:37 PM
I feel more and more, as I grow older, the inclination to throw everything away and live on air. We all allow ourselves to need too much.

How lovely!  Thank you for this.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Kullervo on January 10, 2009, 04:44:28 AM
Yes, that line struck a chord with me as well. 
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on January 11, 2009, 04:04:56 AM
Great quote from "Lawrence of Arabia" there, Corey. My belated thanks!
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Sergeant Rock on January 11, 2009, 03:07:37 PM
Yes, that line struck a chord with me as well. 

You're far too young to feel that way, Corey! ...unless you have thoughts of taking holy orders  ;)

But a sincere thanks from this old fart for sharing that quote. It reminds me too what we lost when Elgar died. From what we know of it, his Third would have been a glorious coda to a great career.

Sarge
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Kullervo on January 11, 2009, 04:46:48 PM
You're far too young to feel that way, Corey! ...unless you have thoughts of taking holy orders  ;)

But a sincere thanks from this old fart for sharing that quote. It reminds me too what we lost when Elgar died. From what we know of it, his Third would have been a glorious coda to a great career.

Sarge

Well, as I'm planning a big move later this year, and looking around at my things to decide what I should sell or give away, that epigram seemed particularly suited to my mindset at this moment. Our possessions really do weigh us down.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Sergeant Rock on January 11, 2009, 04:51:13 PM
Well, as I'm planning a big move later this year, and looking around at my things to decide what I should sell or give away, that epigram seemed particularly suited to my mindset at this moment. Our possessions really do weigh us down.


Understood. In my army career I moved eleven times. Things had to be discarded. Still, it was never easy.

Sarge
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Kuhlau on January 12, 2009, 01:58:16 AM
Our possessions really do weigh us down.

Wasn't it Confucius who said, 'The bird with golden wings cannot fly'?

FK
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Martin Lind on January 22, 2009, 08:12:30 AM
Listened alot to Lux Christ during the last time. An early work before the "big leap" of the Enigma variations. I listened to it 4 or 5 times. I can't make up my mind exactly. There are splendid things in this score certainly. The beginning is absolutely marvelous, the whole "meditation" and this great idea at the end of it. "Dream of Gerontius" is certainly more perfect - but as a whole Lux Christi is certainly not bad, even if some things may be a bit lengthy. But it is certainly a work I like - I was not at all so enthusiastic for Cataractus which I didn't like at all although it is also an early work.

Such a pity that I still don't have the texts.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on January 22, 2009, 12:19:00 PM
Listened alot to Lux Christ during the last time. An early work before the "big leap" of the Enigma variations. I listened to it 4 or 5 times. I can't make up my mind exactly. There are splendid things in this score certainly. The beginning is absolutely marvelous, the whole "meditation" and this great idea at the end of it. "Dream of Gerontius" is certainly more perfect - but as a whole Lux Christi is certainly not bad, even if some things may be a bit lengthy. But it is certainly a work I like - I was not at all so enthusiastic for Cataractus which I didn't like at all although it is also an early work.

Such a pity that I still don't have the texts.

Sorry to hear you don't like Caractacus Martin.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Martin Lind on January 22, 2009, 01:09:28 PM
Sorry to hear you don't like Caractacus Martin.

This may change. You should be glad that I liked Lux Christi, which is an early less well known work. This may change my attitude to Caractacus. I have listened to Caractacus only one time. To Lux Christi I listened now several times. Lux Christi was more intriguing first of all. The ending of the meditation in Lux Christi is magical, but the whole piece is. I am still not completely convinced by Lux Christi, but even this may change. So I will one time again listen to Caractacus.

The point is you cannot apreciate these scores so easy. There are less "big tunes" but more "magical moments". This is my impression. Do you think this could be a problem in these scores? But I still miss the texts, it is really stupid that I can't get the texts.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on January 23, 2009, 08:58:35 AM
This may change. You should be glad that I liked Lux Christi, which is an early less well known work. This may change my attitude to Caractacus. I have listened to Caractacus only one time. To Lux Christi I listened now several times. Lux Christi was more intriguing first of all. The ending of the meditation in Lux Christi is magical, but the whole piece is. I am still not completely convinced by Lux Christi, but even this may change. So I will one time again listen to Caractacus.

The point is you cannot apreciate these scores so easy. There are less "big tunes" but more "magical moments". This is my impression. Do you think this could be a problem in these scores? But I still miss the texts, it is really stupid that I can't get the texts.

Of course I'm happy you like The Light of Life, Op. 29.  ;)

Many seems to complain that Elgar's oratorios are boring and that nothing happens to them. Personally I find them very rich but the the details are subtle. One has to "get lost" inside the textures of the music and notice all the small things, not only notes but timbral effects too. The music is spiritual and needs the "co-operation" of the listener. The result is rewarding. Good luck with Caractacus!



Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: drogulus on January 25, 2009, 10:30:15 AM

     This is the first I've heard mention of Lux Christi. Now I'm intrigued.

     Caractacus has some problems for me which mostly can be reduced to the expression corny, and the word jingo also occurs. I'm usually fairly tolerant of the bluster of bygone days (do we really have to relitigate the Boer War?). Still, this piece does produce a cringe now and then. Perhaps even more damaging is all the "all hail"-ing that goes on. Why can't Elgar set music to a worthy text? This is a composer who is on the doorstep of equality with Mahler and Strauss but his texts are positively childish by comparison.* I say this as an unabashed Elgar lover. Outside of the notes themselves he seems to have been a pretty oblivious fellow.


     * Or, if you like, by comparison with Vaughan Williams. And don't even think of comparing Elgar with Finzi!
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on January 25, 2009, 11:57:01 AM
Why can't Elgar set music to a worthy text?

In my opinion Elgar is about setting texts to worthy music rather than the other way around. I don't care about the text. I care about the music. I don't even know what is worthy text and what is not. Literature is not my thing, "vibrational fields" are.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: knight66 on January 25, 2009, 11:43:54 PM
There is an enormous disparity here between say Britten and Elgar. The younger composer had marvelous taste in what he set and clearly he was often inspired by the words to write his music. With Elgar it is hit and miss, with a lot of poor texts. He seemed to make a decision to write and then texts were constructed, without all the care that such as Strauss would lavish on getting the words he really wanted. Elgar tended to pretty well take what he got. His other way of writing vocal music was to use an existing text; Sea Pictures, not good poetry, but written partly for sentimental reasons. The music means the work is popular, but he was no word setter on a par with the likes of Britten.

I think that because he had a relatively undistinguished taste in poetry, he hobbled pieces such as The Kingdom and Caractacus. The libretti are rather like the lesser Mendelssohn oratorios such as St Paul which follow in the line of Handel libretti; and the shape of these libretti to an extent shape the music. Had he a partnership with an English Hofmannsthal, those Elgar pieces might have shone more brightly. Some hate the libretto for Gerontius; but that free form text without the echoes of Handel Orotario, without lots of repitition, brought out the symphonic inspiration that provided a much more interesting and rich work. I think the ABA aria and the chorus/aria/chorus shapes were a constraint on his imagination.

Indeed, in this sense of an ear for poetry he was penny plain, accepting the obvious and to an extent the popular.There are the occasional gems, but also a lot of tosh to endure for the sake of the music. But the great pieces really are great.

Mike
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Kuhlau on January 26, 2009, 01:41:42 AM
Very well put, Mike.

Certainly, Elgar was no Britten (or Finzi) when it came to word setting. He was more of a big tunes man, and he wrote some stirring music, indeed. A work like Sea Pictures seems to succeed almost in spite of itself - largely because the music is better than the words.

Where I think Elgar was stronger was in his settings of part-songs. The two Op. 71 songs are particularly deftly handled. I'd have liked to have heard more of this kind of smaller-scale word setting from Elgar.

FK
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: eyeresist on January 29, 2009, 08:24:11 PM
Once again this forum has led me to music I might otherwise have missed! After reading the last few entries, I listened to The Music Makers for the first time (cond. Andrew Davis, an excellent performance/recording). I think the only previous Elgar choral work I'd heard was "All the young princesses", which sounds about as you might expect. Needless to say (but I'll say it anyway), I was very impressed by TMM. Its references to the orchestral works helped of course. So I quickly went out and picked up the Choral Collection on EMI, and now I think I will have to get the Collector's Edition as well. If only the Hickox discs were a little less expensive - it would be nice to hear these works in modern sound.

Yes, Elgar's librettos seem pretty awful. I wonder if some irreverent person has tried resetting Music Makers with words from the Wunderhorn, or some other more worthy text? ;)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Brewski on January 30, 2009, 09:44:57 AM
Speaking of Sea Pictures, which I've never heard live, Levine and the MET Orchestra are doing it in December with mezzo Stephanie Blythe, coupled with Mahler's Fifth Symphony.  Details here (http://www.carnegiehall.org/article/box_office/events/evt_10218.html?selecteddate=12202009).

--Bruce
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Martin Lind on January 31, 2009, 02:39:38 AM
I listened now for the 7th or 8th time to Lux Christi and this time I am more convinced than ever that this is a genuine masterpiece. The score is full of marvelous moments. I am glad that I have bought this box:

(http://www.musicweb-international.com/classRev/2007/Oct07/Elgar_Collectors_5036032.jpg)

It is a genuine bargain. I have of course only heard a smaller part of this box. I don't know wether all this music is so great. But maybe? I liked Lux Christi from the first beginning, but beginning with Lux Christi I was often bored, but listening to it now several times I am really convinced by this music. It obviously lasts some time to really grasp its greatness. And I am convinced that it may be a good thing to listen to Elgar more often!
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: jlaurson on February 24, 2009, 05:25:25 PM
Elgar 75th Death Anniversary Tribute on WETA.

Edward Elgar (1857 – 23 February 1934)


"Library Building" posts are reviews of recordings I find to be essential to every good collection of classical music - recordings of interpretations that are the touchstone for their repertoire.


Looking at Edward Elgar 75 years after he died (today, on February 23rd), he looks to be the quintessential English gentleman composer. From his handlebar mustache to his glee club membership to his avid bike-riding to his compositions that seem to presage that particular type of British “pastoral” music, he has become the mold for a stereotype. There is no composer native to England that is more famous or more often performed.

There can’t be many English speaking classical music lovers who don’t know at least his Pomp & Circumstance march and the Enigma Variations. His Cello Concerto has received mythical status through the famous EMI recording of Jacqueline du Pré and the LSO under John Barbirolli. His Third Symphony is—with Mahler’s Tenth, Mozart’s Requiem, Berg’s Lulu, and Puccini’s Turandot—one of the famous unfinished works that has been ‘completed’ posthumously.

Information about Elgar is easily found, so in acknowledgment of his 75th death anniversary, I restrict myself to listing recordings of some of his works—famous and obscure—that I think are particularly notable.

(continues here: http://www.weta.org/fmblog/?p=503 (http://www.weta.org/fmblog/?p=503))

Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Guido on September 15, 2009, 01:17:23 AM
http://www.wrightmusic.org.uk/elgar.html

Another astonishing piece of writing by this guy (see Britten thread). What on earth could drive him to write such a rambling, hateful, and poorly thought through piece?

Here's his "damning" criticism of the cello concerto:

EDIT: I've just seen his ridiculous warning at the bottom of the page about not being able to quote any part of his work - I don't want to get GMG in trouble though, so just check it out - it's about 3/4 of the way down.

What perspicacious, lucid and penetrating musical analysis!! Mental.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: DavidW on September 15, 2009, 03:21:50 AM
He certainly loves his navy blue knickers! ;D
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Lethevich on September 15, 2009, 04:58:17 AM
I believe this chap had to be politely told to stop contributing to MusicWeb due to his poisoned pen. Quite the nutter, indeed.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: drogulus on September 25, 2009, 01:21:10 PM

     This fellow is impressed by the harsh judgment of Elgar's rivals. Is this more important than the influence he had on music and British composers? Who cares what Walton said in 1960? Hadn't he already demonstrated what he owed to Elgar? Bax said if only Elgar had been professionally trained....if only what? He would be a greater artist? Perhaps, but training doesn't impart talent. The success of Elgar shows that someone with great gifts can overcome deficiencies in training.

     You can't "unmask" an artist as an artist. The art is the effect it produces, and any tricks used to achieve this are part of the art. The amateur and poorly trained who overcome their disadvantages are not despised for this. How could they be? Elgar played the leading role in founding a national musical tradition in a country that hadn't had a great native-born composer in centuries. What could Stanford or Parry say that could change that?

     I found this about a comparison that Barbirolli made between Elgar and Bruckner:

     Indeed he once said of Bruckner's Seventh "I find a great affinity with Elgar: not in actual music, of course, but in loftiness of ideals and purpose, richness of melodic line and harmony, and even an affinity of defects." This last comment is particularly fascinating and he went on to elaborate: "The over development, sometimes to the point of padding, the sequences, etc., but all very loveable and to me easily tolerated and forgiven in the greatness of it all."


     That's an opinion, too, so take it for what it's worth. I find the opinions of those who love music valuable, and sometimes critical opinions as well when they demonstrate some understanding.
     
   
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Lethevich on September 25, 2009, 04:03:08 PM
Bax said if only Elgar had been professionally trained....if only what?

That is rich coming from him! :D They both have their structural difficulties.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: DavidW on September 25, 2009, 04:48:37 PM
That is rich coming from him! :D They both have their structural difficulties.

I disagree, neither one has structural difficulties.  It's said alot, especially about Elgar, and I think I know where it comes from.  These neoromantic composers are seen as throwbacks, as a tonal refuge in the atonal storm.  Well, it takes one extra step to label them as easy listening which many people do.  But they're not, they wrote very complex music that would be assaulting to the ears of someone from the romantic era.  Elgar, Bax etc are not "easy listening" composers, and the only way for those that think so to resolve that cognitive dissonance of calling difficult music easy is to say that they must be poor orchestrators or simply deficient in composing in some way.

But the problem is not with the composers, it's with the audience.  If you accept the music for what it is then you can realize that these are not problematic composers, they simply write in a very unique style shared by only a few.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Lethevich on September 25, 2009, 06:09:25 PM
I don't consider those traits to be faults, but I took the training comment to mean he felt Elgar's music could be tidied up to reach a higher level of wider access/appeal or something, when the same criticism could equally be leveled at his music.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on September 26, 2009, 12:14:47 AM
Yes, Elgar wasn't professionally trained but that doesn't mean he was under-trained. I think he was able to self-train himself extremely well. He studied scores (he's father was a owner of a music shop) of great composers. J.S.Bach, Handel, Mozart, Beethoven, etc. were his teachers and he learned so much. Professional training can be a problem too. Hovhaness' teachers called his original music stupid! Often it is the teacher in need of education.

I disagree, neither one has structural difficulties.  It's said alot, especially about Elgar, and I think I know where it comes from.  These neoromantic composers are seen as throwbacks, as a tonal refuge in the atonal storm.  Well, it takes one extra step to label them as easy listening which many people do.  But they're not, they wrote very complex music that would be assaulting to the ears of someone from the romantic era.  Elgar, Bax etc are not "easy listening" composers, and the only way for those that think so to resolve that cognitive dissonance of calling difficult music easy is to say that they must be poor orchestrators or simply deficient in composing in some way.

But the problem is not with the composers, it's with the audience.  If you accept the music for what it is then you can realize that these are not problematic composers, they simply write in a very unique style shared by only a few.

Well said DavidW.  ;)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: DavidW on September 26, 2009, 05:47:57 AM
I don't consider those traits to be faults, but I took the training comment to mean he felt Elgar's music could be tidied up to reach a higher level of wider access/appeal or something, when the same criticism could equally be leveled at his music.

Oh yeah I know, your post was just an excuse to say something that had been on my mind recently! :D

Well said DavidW.  ;)

Thank you sir! 8)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on November 09, 2009, 04:31:10 AM
Эльгар в Москве

Some interesting news for Elgar fans who bemoan the lack of attention paid to their hero outside the Anglosphere. I've been looking at the main Moscow concert website, and for some reason lots of Elgar is being played this year: the Enigma Variations (more than once), the violin and cello concertos, and a bunch of smaller pieces.

I'm a little puzzled, since it's not an anniversary or anything. Still, nice to see. (We also get Walton's 1st Symphony; I'm excited about that)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: vandermolen on November 09, 2009, 05:52:25 AM
Эльгар в Москве

Some interesting news for Elgar fans who bemoan the lack of attention paid to their hero outside the Anglosphere. I've been looking at the main Moscow concert website, and for some reason lots of Elgar is being played this year: the Enigma Variations (more than once), the violin and cello concertos, and a bunch of smaller pieces.

I'm a little puzzled, since it's not an anniversary or anything. Still, nice to see. (We also get Walton's 1st Symphony; I'm excited about that)

I have a CD of Svetlanov and the USSR SO performing Elgar Symphony No 2 - a very interesting CD.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: secondwind on January 09, 2010, 10:36:34 PM
I just returned from hearing Elgar's Violin Concerto performed by Nikolaj Znaider with the National Symphony Orchestra under Leonard Slatkin.  My husband and I had such wildly different impressions of the piece, which was new to both of us, that it almost left me wondering if we had in fact heard the same concert! I thought it was lovely, beautifully played, introspective and sensitive, with moments of pastoral lyricism and episodes of inner struggle--whatever.  I liked it a lot.  He said it was the most tedious thing he'd ever heard.  He said other things even less complimentary to the work. 

It's not that we agree on everything, but it is rare indeed for us to come to such vastly different conclusions about a piece of music.  Is this an Elgar thing, or were  we each having our own particular kind of a bad day?  Can this marriage be saved?  ???
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on January 10, 2010, 01:41:17 AM
Elgar's Violin Concerto is my favorite VC! Absolutely awesome work  and totally undervalued.

Is this an Elgar thing,

I think it is. 99 % of people just don't get his music. Really frustrating for us Elgarians.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Lethevich on January 10, 2010, 05:42:33 AM
Secondwind - it's a classic "Elgar thing", and it's what seperates the factions who believe that Elgar is one of the greatest cross-century century Romantics and those who consider him over-hyped (by the insidious British Media, as I have learned from this forum :P).

His music at its most expansive is surprisingly difficult to grasp - not surprising that his "hits" are the more restrained cello concerto and the Enigma Variations. The symphonies and VC are rather different affairs... They are at once as supremely passionate and nostalgic as Rachmaninoff, but lack the directness that people find in his piano concertos. Many consider the symphonies in particular to be wallowing and loosely structured, but with close listening Elgar can be found to be as structured as Mahler, if not quite so bursting with ideas.

It's strange, as I doubt Elgar intended to write tough music, because it is constantly melodic and appealing to the ear at individual moments, but there is a certain density to his ideas which will always leave many people wondering what on earth he was trying to do - both orchestrationally and structurally - especially in the symphonies. To further contrast with Mahler's style: where Mahler is expansive, he is also chamber-like. His orchestral writing is an x-ray in which you can hear everything. Elgar is less radical, and as a result on a first listen (or even subsequent ones) the music can sound "gloopy" as there is too much going on under the surface. I suspect they would benefit greatly from score-reading, but that is beyond my ability at the moment.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: drogulus on January 14, 2010, 12:50:44 AM
Once again this forum has led me to music I might otherwise have missed! After reading the last few entries, I listened to The Music Makers for the first time (cond. Andrew Davis, an excellent performance/recording). I think the only previous Elgar choral work I'd heard was "All the young princesses", which sounds about as you might expect. Needless to say (but I'll say it anyway), I was very impressed by TMM. Its references to the orchestral works helped of course. So I quickly went out and picked up the Choral Collection on EMI, and now I think I will have to get the Collector's Edition as well. If only the Hickox discs were a little less expensive - it would be nice to hear these works in modern sound.

Yes, Elgar's librettos seem pretty awful. I wonder if some irreverent person has tried resetting Music Makers with words from the Wunderhorn, or some other more worthy text? ;)

      Another vote for The Music Makers....hooray! This is my favorite greatest hits medley ever produced by a classical composer. It might be the only such medley, but no matter, I really like it. (http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/Smileys/classic/angel.gif)

     Wild divergences about Elgar do seem to be common. I get the feeling that some listeners feel Elgar is beneath them, and there's a cultural and political bias involved. I will hazard a guess that much of the real anti-Elgar feeling stems from his association with British imperialism, which is still widely unpopular throughout the world. Elgar is seen not only as supporting imperialism but as being sentimental about it.

      David, you make an interesting point about difficulty with Elgar and Bax. When avant-gardists are difficult it's commonly taken by their partisans as a sign of the music's importance, and its uncompromising nature should inspire efforts to understand it. The music is better than you are, so you'd better buckle down and learn to appreciate it if you want to be taken seriously as a cultured person. Can you imagine such indulgence in the case of neo- or late romantic composers? No, in their case something must be wrong with the music! Look, either view is supportable IMO. Either you work to understand what's difficult or you decide the composer writes the wrong kind of music. What gets me is attacks on the difficulty of Elgar and Bax that assume that difficulty can only be explaned by defects and not by the ambition of the composer.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on January 14, 2010, 01:47:45 AM
I just returned from hearing Elgar's Violin Concerto performed by Nikolaj Znaider with the National Symphony Orchestra under Leonard Slatkin.  My husband and I had such wildly different impressions of the piece, which was new to both of us, that it almost left me wondering if we had in fact heard the same concert! I thought it was lovely, beautifully played, introspective and sensitive, with moments of pastoral lyricism and episodes of inner struggle--whatever.  I liked it a lot.  He said it was the most tedious thing he'd ever heard.  He said other things even less complimentary to the work. 

It's not that we agree on everything, but it is rare indeed for us to come to such vastly different conclusions about a piece of music.  Is this an Elgar thing, or were  we each having our own particular kind of a bad day?  Can this marriage be saved?  ???
It took me years to come to terms with the violin concerto, although now it's one of my most treasured pieces of music. I find it almost painfully beautiful and full of expressions of deep longing. I think for many people it has less immediate appeal than the cello concerto, and they find it too long - largely I suspect because of the 10 minute cadenza he attached at the end, which demands really close attention just when they think they've had enough. But everything that's there is essential as far as I can see. For me, it's a piece that benefits by some knowledge of the biographical background - most notably Elgar's relationship with his 'Windflower' (Alice Stuart Wortley),  his struggle with a deep-seated attitude to a certain feminine archetype, and the tug of war that went on within him between the public and private self.

The key to the concerto lies, in my opinion, in the cadenza. After a respectable half an hour's duration (and following a heartbreakingly moving second movement), just as he seems to be about to wind things up, 10 minutes into the last movement, suddenly a question is raised. Strikingly, the cadenza is announced by an eerie thrumming on the strings and the two 'windflower' themes (introduced so hauntingly in the first movement)  begin a kind of tortured dialogue on the solo violin, as if to say that matters are still unresolved between us. That 10-minute cadenza at times struggles to continue - there are a couple of moments when one feels the music is about to die, almost for sheer lack of momentum. The parallel with Elgar's personal temperament is unmissable, I think - the conflict between public and private persona; the conflict between woman as lover, and woman as mother - I think the cadenza seeks to make a musical resolution that symbolises a possible solution of his emotional conflicts. At the end, it seems that some kind of acceptance is reached - an acceptance that these are the conflicts that drive his music, perhaps? - and the thing is wrapped up with surprising suddenness, as he papers over the cracks with a last blast of the public self.

If you're as interested in Elgar the man as much as I am, then the violin concerto is a fascinating piece of music to explore over a lifetime. If you're not, then maybe that's when these criticisms about it being too long, etc, start to tell. But even so, I'd have thought most people could grow to love the sheer lyrical beauty of the second movement.



Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on January 14, 2010, 09:38:33 AM
Amazing interesting posts drogulus & Elgarian!  ;)

I also have felt always that Elgar suffers unjustly from "stylistic reasons."

I have loved the Violin Concerto as one of Elgar's best works from the first time I heard it and feel that if you understand what kind of man Elgar was, you'll understand and enjoy his music more. 
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on January 14, 2010, 11:12:47 AM
99% of people just don't get his music. Really frustrating for us Elgarians.

I really do not think that is even remotely the case, Poju (the 99% remark; I cannot presume to validate or refute your frustration, which may well be of your own device).
 
For but one example:  On the Arkivmusic site, the top level of the Composer drilldown is a list of 100 "Most Popular Composers."  Not only is Elgar on that list, but by number of recordings available at Arkivmusic, he very comfortable 'ranks' at around no. 35.
 
That doesn't sound like "99% of people just don't get Elgar's music," except in the trivial sense that some equal percentage of people "just don't get" the music of 60 other composers on that list.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on January 14, 2010, 12:07:37 PM

I really do not think that is even remotely the case, Poju (the 99% remark; I cannot presume to validate or refute your frustration, which may well be of your own device).
 
For but one example:  On the Arkivmusic site, the top level of the Composer drilldown is a list of 100 "Most Popular Composers."  Not only is Elgar on that list, but by number of recordings available at Arkivmusic, he very comfortable 'ranks' at around no. 35.
 
That doesn't sound like "99% of people just don't get Elgar's music," except in the trivial sense that some equal percentage of people "just don't get" the music of 60 other composers on that list.

By people I mean people, not classical music fans. Or do you really think more than 1 % (more than 60 million individuals) of the population on Earth gets Elgar's symphonies? Since that percentage is that low, I suppose less than half of people into classical music really gets Elgar's music.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Gurn Blanston on January 14, 2010, 12:15:45 PM
By people I mean people, not classical music fans. Or do you really think more than 1 % (more than 60 million individuals) of the population on Earth gets Elgar's symphonies? Since that percentage is that low, I suppose less than half of people into classical music really gets Elgar's music.

Well, by those *ahem* standards, I guess you can take comfort in the undoubted fact that a statistically insignificant number of people from that same percentage don't like or appreciate Beethoven either, who is clearly Elgar's nemesis. FWIW, I am in the 1%, despite being a bit shy to admit it in these circumstances... :-\

8)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on January 14, 2010, 12:26:20 PM
Well, by those *ahem* standards, I guess you can take comfort in the undoubted fact that a statistically insignificant number of people from that same percentage don't like or appreciate Beethoven either, who is clearly Elgar's nemesis. FWIW, I am in the 1%, despite being a bit shy to admit it in these circumstances... :-\

8)

That was pretty obscure locution.  Are you saying you don't like Beethoven?
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Gurn Blanston on January 14, 2010, 01:24:31 PM
That was pretty obscure locution.  Are you saying you don't like Beethoven?

Obscurity is my strength... ;)

No, I'm not saying that. To be plainer, I'm saying that (by his logic) most of the world doesn't like Beethoven any more than they like Elgar, and for the same reason; that 99.9% that doesn't care for classical music. I only chose Beethoven because Poju is the archenemy of Beethoven and the champion of Elgar, when in fact the difference between the number of people who care for one v the other, when put in terms of the population of the entire world, is statistically insignificant.  Just sayin'...

8)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on January 14, 2010, 01:28:10 PM
Obscurity is my strength... ;)

No, I'm not saying that. To be plainer, I'm saying that (by his logic) most of the world doesn't like Beethoven any more than they like Elgar, and for the same reason; that 99.9% that doesn't care for classical music. I only chose Beethoven because Poju is the archenemy of Beethoven and the champion of Elgar, when in fact the difference between the number of people who care for one v the other, when put in terms of the population of the entire world, is statistically insignificant.  Just sayin'...

8)

The difference between the number of people who don't like Beethoven and don't like Elgar is insignificant.  The difference between the number of people who like Beethoven and like Elgar is significant.   >:D
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Gurn Blanston on January 14, 2010, 01:38:19 PM
The difference between the number of people who don't like Beethoven and don't like Elgar is insignificant.  The difference between the number of people who like Beethoven and like Elgar is significant.   >:D

Except our Poju has couched it in terms of percentages of the world population. If we were starting (sensibly) with people who like classical music, then you would be 100% correct.... hey, what can I say?   :D

8)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on January 14, 2010, 05:35:10 PM
And, back to the videotape:

That doesn't sound like "99% of people just don't get Elgar's music," except in the trivial sense that some equal percentage of people "just don't get" the music of 60 other composers on that list.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: drogulus on January 14, 2010, 08:40:33 PM

     
The difference between the number of people who don't like Beethoven and don't like Elgar is insignificant.  The difference between the number of people who like Beethoven and like Elgar is significant.   >:D

      Therefore, Elgar is the greater composer. Even after 100 years people don't get him. (http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/Smileys/classic/shocked.gif) Beethoven is OK if you like popular music. (http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/Smileys/classic/tongue.gif)

      Pretty convincing, eh? (http://img149.imageshack.us/img149/527/20091118075459.jpg) (http://img693.imageshack.us/img693/1518/20091118054717.jpg) (http://img690.imageshack.us/img690/882/20091118075409.jpg)
     
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on January 14, 2010, 09:31:16 PM
     
      Therefore, Elgar is the greater composer. Even after 100 years people don't get him. (http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/Smileys/classic/shocked.gif) Beethoven is OK if you like popular music. (http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/Smileys/classic/tongue.gif)

      Pretty convincing, eh? (http://img149.imageshack.us/img149/527/20091118075459.jpg) (http://img693.imageshack.us/img693/1518/20091118054717.jpg) (http://img690.imageshack.us/img690/882/20091118075409.jpg)
     

I might even be willing to admit to liking some Elgar, until I realize that 71 db will interpret this as proof that he is really smarter than the rest of us afterall... >:(
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on January 15, 2010, 04:02:51 AM
Elgar's Violin Concerto is my favorite VC! Absolutely awesome work  and totally undervalued.
My impression is that it's commonly regarded as one of the great violin concertos - not least by the fiddlers who play it. There are loads of recordings of it. I don't think it's undervalued.

Quote
99 % of people just don't get his music. Really frustrating for us Elgarians.
I don't believe I do find it particularly frustrating. It seems to be part of the human condition that things are like that. 99.99% of people don't 'get' any of the things that fascinate me (and I suspect most people could say something similar).

Misinformation about Elgar is a different matter of course - and that can be frustrating when I encounter it; but on the whole, Elgar seems to be doing OK as far as I can see. There's a flourishing Elgar Society, a lovely Birthplace museum, a large number of excellent recordings available, an enticingly large array of fascinating books about him, and no shortage of performances of his music. Where's the problem?
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on January 15, 2010, 04:11:17 AM
Elgar seems to be doing OK as far as I can see. There's a flourishing Elgar Society, a lovely Birthplace museum, a large number of excellent recordings available, an enticingly large array of fascinating books about him, and no shortage of performances of his music. Where's the problem?

The problem is that I won't be able to make tonight's concert of the Enigma Variations plus the Cello Concerto - it's sold out (and that's in Moscow, mind you, not anywhere in the UK).

But I'll have another chance to hear the concerto in March (same hall, different soloist).
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: drogulus on January 15, 2010, 05:01:25 AM
     
My impression is that it's commonly regarded as one of the great violin concertos - not least by the fiddlers who play it. There are loads of recordings of it. I don't think it's undervalued.


        I agree. Both concertos are well regarded. Even the symphonies have been recorded many times, and not just by the usual suspects. Unlike with the Bax symphonies, you don't have to be British to conduct them.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on January 15, 2010, 07:19:31 AM
My impression is that it's commonly regarded as one of the great violin concertos - not least by the fiddlers who play it. There are loads of recordings of it. I don't think it's undervalued.

Hear, hear.  It is going to be a delight to hear the Vn Cto live at Symphony Hall this weekend!
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on January 15, 2010, 07:43:10 AM
I only chose Beethoven because Poju is the archenemy of Beethoven and the champion of Elgar,

Not true! I am not an archenemy of Beethoven. I consider him the greatest composer of string quartets. What I am saying is that in my opinion Beethoven wasn't that great in everything. That doesn't make me an archenemy, not even an enemy.  It makes me critical.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on January 15, 2010, 08:27:43 AM
Where's the problem?

Over there in UK the problem might be invisible but come to Finland! Elgar's status here is miserable.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: MN Dave on January 15, 2010, 08:29:58 AM
Who cares what Finland thinks?   :P
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on January 15, 2010, 09:08:25 AM
Not true! I am not an archenemy of Beethoven. I consider him the greatest composer of string quartets.

Beethoven was also a symphonist far superior to Elgar. (Just saying.)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on January 15, 2010, 12:07:42 PM
Who cares what Finland thinks?   :P

I care because I am a Finn. It's not only Finland. Elgar's status is low is Poland, France, Italy, China, Brazil, Island, etc.. etc...

Beethoven was also a symphonist far superior to Elgar. (Just saying.)

So you say but Beethoven's all 9 symphonies together means to me less than one of Elgar's symphonies.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: MN Dave on January 15, 2010, 12:09:46 PM
I care because I am a Finn. It's not only Finland. Elgar's status is low is Poland, France, Italy, China, Brazil, Island, etc.. etc...

I know you're a Finn. I was yanking your chain. Worked, didn't it? ;)

Is the only place they really care about Elgar the UK?
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on January 15, 2010, 12:12:55 PM
Is the only place they really care about Elgar the UK?

So I have understood but Elgar probably has some kind of status in US also.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: MN Dave on January 15, 2010, 12:22:08 PM
So I have understood but Elgar probably has some kind of status in US also.

Well, I certainly play him on occasion.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on January 15, 2010, 12:34:30 PM
Hear, hear.  It is going to be a delight to hear the Vn Cto live at Symphony Hall this weekend!

Well I hope it's wonderful. (Make sure you wear a windflower in your buttonhole.)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on January 15, 2010, 12:42:17 PM
So you say but Beethoven's all 9 symphonies together means to me less than one of Elgar's symphonies.

Which reflects very poorly on you, we might add.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on January 15, 2010, 12:43:02 PM
Well I hope it's wonderful. (Make sure you wear a windflower in your buttonhole.)

Very good, sieur.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on January 15, 2010, 12:51:53 PM
Which reflects very poorly on you, we might add.

Please explain. At least I have been able to make my own opinion instead of sucking into "Beethoven > Elgar" propaganda.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on January 15, 2010, 12:59:30 PM
Please explain. At least I have been able to make my own opinion instead of sucking into "Beethoven > Elgar" propaganda.

For one thing, it reflects poorly on you that you are unable to acknowledge that people who appreciate Beethoven have also made their own opinion.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on January 15, 2010, 01:09:50 PM
but Beethoven's all 9 symphonies together means to me less than one of Elgar's symphonies.
If I'm honest, I should admit that I feel like that too, but there are two different kinds of statements being made here. You and I are talking about a particularly deep and enriching engagement that our temperaments permit us to make with Elgar's music. That such an engagement is possible at all implies that Elgar's symphonies are fine symphonies in some sense, at least. That's quite enough in itself, in my view. There's no need in this to make comparisons with how the symphonies of others affect us. It's not a competition.

Karl, however, is taking a more detached, balanced, broader view, considering Beethoven's symphonies partly, (I suppose) in the context of the history of music, but also, and probably more importantly, considering the abundance of musical invention they contain.

These two views (one mostly subjective, the other based on criteria that can I suppose be clearly established) can happily coexist. I can state with a cheerful smile that I wouldn't swap Elgar's first symphony for all of Beethoven's, while still agreeing that Karl is probably right.

Or, to employ the gastronomical approach to musical appreciation: apples are a better food than ice cream smothered in chocolate sauce, but I still like ice cream more. [Sigh.]
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on January 15, 2010, 01:14:44 PM

Please explain. At least I have been able to make my own opinion instead of sucking into "Beethoven > Elgar" propaganda.

Beethoven > Elgar is not propaganda;  it is a large consensus.  There's room for argument here and there;  but overall, musicological evaluation of the two composers scores the advantage to Beethoven.  (And not only in string quartets.)

Elgar > Beethoven is certainly propaganda, and of much the whackier sort.  It is very troubling that you continue in mouth-foaming denial of this.

 
If I'm honest, I should admit that I feel like that too, but there are two different kinds of statements being made here. You and I are talking about a particularly deep and enriching engagement that our temperaments permit us to make with Elgar's music. That such an engagement is possible at all implies that Elgar's symphonies are fine symphonies in some sense, at least. That's quite enough in itself, in my view. There's no need in this to make comparisons with how the symphonies of others affect us. It's not a competition.

Karl, however, is taking a more detached, balanced, broader view, considering Beethoven's symphonies partly, (I suppose) in the context of the history of music, but also, and probably more importantly, considering the abundance of musical invention they contain.

These two views (one mostly subjective, the other based on criteria that can I suppose be clearly established) can happily coexist. I can state with a cheerful smile that I wouldn't swap Elgar's first symphony for all of Beethoven's, while still agreeing that Karl is probably right.

It is a pleasure to share the conversation with you, esteemed sir.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on January 15, 2010, 01:22:46 PM
It is a pleasure to share the conversation with you, esteemed sir.
Always a pleasure to share a conversation with you, Dr Henning. But if you think I might share my ice cream & chocolate sauce, then let it be known that I'll fight to the death. (You can have the apples though.)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on January 15, 2010, 02:22:55 PM
For one thing, it reflects poorly on you that you are unable to acknowledge that people who appreciate Beethoven have also made their own opinion.

Have they really? I appreciate Beethoven's string quartets because I feel his musical style really shines with that instrumentation. I also feel that his symphonies are under-orchestrated which makes them sound like an elephant in a porcelain store.

Our culture seems to say that we are supposed to appreciate Beethoven. If not then we are freaks and a freak I seem to be.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on January 15, 2010, 02:41:09 PM
Beethoven > Elgar is not propaganda;  it is a large consensus.  There's room for argument here and there;  but overall, musicological evaluation of the two composers scores the advantage to Beethoven.  (And not only in string quartets.)

But what is the historical basis of that large consensus? That's what is interesting. If Beethoven was declared the greatest composer in history when young Elgar was learning to compose, what chance was there for Elgar? That's the point. What I am doing is finding these mistakes in that large consensus. That's what free-thinkers do, question prevailing conceptions. If you think the consensus has been 100 % right then just think about all the "forgotten" composers that have been found. Consensus changes. Someday it favors Elgar if there is justice.

Elgar > Beethoven is certainly propaganda, and of much the whackier sort.  It is very troubling that you continue in mouth-foaming denial of this.[/font]

Yes, it is propaganda and for an important reason.
 
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on January 15, 2010, 03:19:31 PM
But what is the historical basis of that large consensus? That's what is interesting. If Beethoven was declared the greatest composer in history when young Elgar was learning to compose, what chance was there for Elgar? That's the point. What I am doing is finding these mistakes in that large consensus. That's what free-thinkers do, question prevailing conceptions. If you think the consensus has been 100 % right then just think about all the "forgotten" composers that have been found. Consensus changes. Someday it favors Elgar if there is justice.

Hehehehe!  I think "free-thinking" means thinking unfettered by any logic or evidence.

When Beethoven learned to compose there were also composers who were considered the great masters, Haydn, Mozart, Handel, etc.  Beethoven found his place nevertheless.  Since Beethoven, other composers have come to be regarded as equal in stature, for instance Brahms, Wagner, perhaps Bruckner, Mahler, Strauss, Tchaikovsky, Schoenberg, Stravinsky, Sibelius, or others depending on your inclination.

I wouldn't necessarily label Beethoven the greatest composer in history, but he certainly had a pivotal role the development of western music, and has perhaps been more influential than any composer since.  One thing that is not open to debate is the fact that Elgar not have a similar influence.  He had his own style which was more or less conventional during the period he worked, and  he does not seem to have influenced his contemporaries or the composers that came after him to a great extent.   It does not really make sense to compare Elgar to Beethoven, but it seems clear that Elgar is not of the same stature of some of his contemporaries that had a great influence in the direction of 20th century music, such as those I have referred to above.

Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on January 15, 2010, 03:42:35 PM
Elgar not have a similar influence.  He had his own style which was more or less conventional during the period he worked, and  he does not seem to have influenced his contemporaries or the composers that came after him to a great extent.   It does not really make sense to compare Elgar to Beethoven, but it seems clear that Elgar is not of the same stature of some of his contemporaries that had a great influence in the direction of 20th century music, such as those I have referred to above.

Now you are talking about the reasons why Elgar is a victim of history. Elgar should have been very influential but the development of music took anti-Elgarian turns. Elgar was an influence to British composer (Walton, RWV) and for example movie composer John Williams uses Elgarian influences in his scores.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: secondwind on January 15, 2010, 09:03:13 PM
It took me years to come to terms with the violin concerto, although now it's one of my most treasured pieces of music. I find it almost painfully beautiful and full of expressions of deep longing. I think for many people it has less immediate appeal than the cello concerto, and they find it too long - largely I suspect because of the 10 minute cadenza he attached at the end, which demands really close attention just when they think they've had enough. But everything that's there is essential as far as I can see. For me, it's a piece that benefits by some knowledge of the biographical background - most notably Elgar's relationship with his 'Windflower' (Alice Stuart Wortley),  his struggle with a deep-seated attitude to a certain feminine archetype, and the tug of war that went on within him between the public and private self.

The key to the concerto lies, in my opinion, in the cadenza. After a respectable half an hour's duration (and following a heartbreakingly moving second movement), just as he seems to be about to wind things up, 10 minutes into the last movement, suddenly a question is raised. Strikingly, the cadenza is announced by an eerie thrumming on the strings and the two 'windflower' themes (introduced so hauntingly in the first movement)  begin a kind of tortured dialogue on the solo violin, as if to say that matters are still unresolved between us. That 10-minute cadenza at times struggles to continue - there are a couple of moments when one feels the music is about to die, almost for sheer lack of momentum. The parallel with Elgar's personal temperament is unmissable, I think - the conflict between public and private persona; the conflict between woman as lover, and woman as mother - I think the cadenza seeks to make a musical resolution that symbolises a possible solution of his emotional conflicts. At the end, it seems that some kind of acceptance is reached - an acceptance that these are the conflicts that drive his music, perhaps? - and the thing is wrapped up with surprising suddenness, as he papers over the cracks with a last blast of the public self.

If you're as interested in Elgar the man as much as I am, then the violin concerto is a fascinating piece of music to explore over a lifetime. If you're not, then maybe that's when these criticisms about it being too long, etc, start to tell. But even so, I'd have thought most people could grow to love the sheer lyrical beauty of the second movement.

Well, this gives me hope for my dear hubby, Elgarian!  If it took you years to "come to terms with" the violin concerto,  I guess I can give hubby a bit of time too.  While I'm waiting for him to come around, I can study the piece a bit on my own, and then perhaps I'll be better able to articulate what I like about it.  You mention interest in Elgar the man--any suggestions where I should turn for info after my usual initial stops (i.e., Slonimsky and Wikipedia ;D)?
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on January 16, 2010, 03:12:31 AM
Any suggestions where I should turn for info after my usual initial stops (i.e., Slonimsky and Wikipedia ;D)?

http://www.elgar.org/welcome.htm (http://www.elgar.org/welcome.htm)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: secondwind on January 16, 2010, 06:05:19 AM
http://www.elgar.org/welcome.htm (http://www.elgar.org/welcome.htm)
Thanks, 71dB! :)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on January 16, 2010, 08:01:24 AM
I care because I am a Finn. It's not only Finland. Elgar's status is low is Poland, France, Italy, China, Brazil, Island, etc.. etc...

Somehow I get the impression that you enjoy exaggerating Elgar's low status. Sorry if I'm misreading you, but that's how it seems to me. Are you one of those guys who likes the feeling of being in a despised and misunderstood minority?  ;D

I posted a couple of times about the numerous Elgar performances in Moscow this year. And yes, he does get played quite a bit in the US (not of course as much as in the UK, but still). I hope this good news doesn't make your head explode.

The Elgar vs. Beethoven debate is pointless. Elgar doesn't have to be one of the handful of supremely great composers to be enjoyable. Hey, I like some Elgar too, but I don't feel a great need to puff him up to ridiculous size.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to the two concertos later this year.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on January 16, 2010, 08:54:52 AM
Thanks, 71dB! :)
You are welcome.  ;)

Somehow I get the impression that you enjoy exaggerating Elgar's low status.

I don't exaggerate Elgar's low status and I don't enjoy his low status.

Sorry if I'm misreading you, but that's how it seems to me. Are you one of those guys who likes the feeling of being in a despised and misunderstood minority?  ;D

Well, I am proud about it but I don't think I like it.

I posted a couple of times about the numerous Elgar performances in Moscow this year.

Numerous performances isn't the issue.



The Elgar vs. Beethoven debate is pointless. Elgar doesn't have to be one of the handful of supremely great composers to be enjoyable. Hey, I like some Elgar too, but I don't feel a great need to puff him up to ridiculous size.

This is the point. I am considered a freak because I think Elgar is much greater than his status

Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on January 16, 2010, 09:10:32 AM
Yes, it is propaganda and for an important reason.

Congratulations, Poju: you have discovered the root of your frustration.  Anyone else in the universe perceives that the Elgar > Beethoven propaganda is rubbish;  and that your "important reason" is rubbish.  And that rationalizing your propaganda is intellectual bankruptcy.  End result: your own frustration.  You're a fellow at market trying to sell his sand as porridge, and no one's buying, even when you demo by eating the sand.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on January 16, 2010, 09:23:52 AM
Congratulations, Poju: you have discovered the root of your frustration.  Anyone else in the universe perceives that the Elgar > Beethoven propaganda is rubbish;  and that your "important reason" is rubbish.  And that rationalizing your propaganda is intellectual bankruptcy.  End result: your own frustration.  You're a fellow at market trying to sell his sand as porridge, and no one's buying, even when you demo by eating the sand.

Posts like this takes the discussion out of Elgar and points it to me. I won't get into it. Why not discuss Elgar's part-songs instead? I feel they aren't that well-known...

Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on January 16, 2010, 10:18:50 AM
Posts like this takes the discussion out of Elgar and points it to me. I won't get into it. Why not discuss Elgar's part-songs instead? I feel they aren't that well-known...

You also make the discussion about you, my friend.  How many times have you patiently explained to us that your "free-thinking" has allowed you to discover that the broad consensus of composers, performers and listeners around the globe is wrong and that you alone have discovered that Elgar is superior to the hacks the rest of us half-wits have deluded ourselves into thinking are great composers?

Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on January 17, 2010, 12:38:46 AM
Elgar ... VERY Wagner influenced but found his own way within that ...

I read somewhere Elgar's big idol was Brahms, which makes sense...I don't hear too much Wagner influence.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on January 17, 2010, 02:05:14 AM
Elgar ... VERY Wagner influenced but found his own way within that ... i prefer him to overhyped bores like Beethoven (yawn), easily ...
I read somewhere Elgar's big idol was Brahms, which makes sense...I don't hear too much Wagner influence.

Elgar was self-educated. As a child he studied scores (borrowed from his father's music shop) of many composers. Elgar had many strong influences including J. S. Bach, Handel, Beethoven, Mozart, Berlioz and Brahms. I am not sure about how big influence Wagner was as I find both similarities and differences in their music. What I know is Elgar was deeply impressed by the music of sadly forgotten composer Philipp Wolfrum. Handel was perhaps the most educational and inspirational composer to Elgar.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on January 17, 2010, 03:52:30 AM
This makes sense, especially about Handel, who was hugely popular in 19th-c. England. But I hear Elgar's music as a fairly conscious attempt to follow in the Beethoven-Brahms line of orchestral composition. There are also some interesting stylistic points reminiscent of R. Strauss or Mahler, also natural since they were all contemporaries. (Strauss I think was an admirer of Elgar, and I know Mahler conducted him.)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on January 19, 2010, 06:09:04 AM
Hahn's recording of the Opus 61, while certainly a pleasant enough listen, is a bit too girly and light of tread.  I suspect I always knew this, but its truth was especially emphasized by the gutsy, commanding performance Znaider gave of the work at Symphony this past weekend.  (He plays it again tonight, I believe.)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on January 19, 2010, 06:25:31 AM
Hahn's recording of the Opus 61, while certainly a pleasant enough listen, is a bit too girly and light of tread.  I suspect I always knew this, but its truth was especially emphasized by the gutsy, commanding performance Znaider gave of the work at Symphony this past weekend.  (He plays it again tonight, I believe.)

You know Znaider's recording of it is now out?

All I've got is the old Heifetz from 1949 or so. Highly rated, but one has to contend with the sonics of that period.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on January 19, 2010, 06:28:54 AM
You know Znaider's recording of it is now out?

I saw that in Jens' recent posts. Certainly on my short list.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on January 24, 2010, 01:15:43 PM
You mention interest in Elgar the man--any suggestions where I should turn for info after my usual initial stops (i.e., Slonimsky and Wikipedia ;D)?

There are some really fabulous 'I was there' books about Elgar:

Memories of a Variation by 'Mrs Richard Powell' [b. Dora Penny]. She was the inspiration for the 'Dorabella' variation and her reminiscences of her friendship with Elgar are full of charm and presented with great vividness. The chapter where she talks about how Elgar played some of the variations (including hers) for her at the piano, for the first time, is just gorgeous.

Elgar as I Knew Him by W.H. Reed. The author is Billy' Reed - Leader of the London Symphony Orchestra, and one of Elgar's closest friends. I think, if I remember correctly, Elgar consulted him a good deal while composing the violin concerto and they gave a private performance of a version of it with Billy on fiddle and Elgar on piano.

Edward Elgar: The Record of a Friendship by Rosa Burley, who was headmistress of the school where Elgar taught violin before he was famous, and became a friend of long-standing. When asked why she wasn't a Variation, she bravely replied: 'I was the theme!'

Reading all these books is like spending time in Elgar's company - you catch the little things about him: the way he spoke and behaved, his jokes, his unpredictability, his weaknesses, his strengths.



Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on January 24, 2010, 01:26:39 PM
I don't hear too much Wagner influence.

My understanding is that Elgar was a pretty ardent Wagnerian, and in the big oratorios (GerontiusThe Apostles and The Kingdom) there seem to me to be many passages that show the influence of Wagner, in addition to the obvious structural leanings such as the use of the leitmotif as a unifying and dramatic device.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: secondwind on January 24, 2010, 09:03:22 PM
There are some really fabulous 'I was there' books about Elgar:

Memories of a Variation by 'Mrs Richard Powell' [b. Dora Penny]. She was the inspiration for the 'Dorabella' variation and her reminiscences of her friendship with Elgar are full of charm and presented with great vividness. The chapter where she talks about how Elgar played some of the variations (including hers) for her at the piano, for the first time, is just gorgeous.

Elgar as I Knew Him by W.H. Reed. The author is Billy' Reed - Leader of the London Symphony Orchestra, and one of Elgar's closest friends. I think, if I remember correctly, Elgar consulted him a good deal while composing the violin concerto and they gave a private performance of a version of it with Billy on fiddle and Elgar on piano.

Edward Elgar: The Record of a Friendship by Rosa Burley, who was headmistress of the school where Elgar taught violin before he was famous, and became a friend of long-standing. When asked why she wasn't a Variation, she bravely replied: 'I was the theme!'

Reading all these books is like spending time in Elgar's company - you catch the little things about him: the way he spoke and behaved, his jokes, his unpredictability, his weaknesses, his strengths.
Thanks!  I'll see which of these I can put my hands on soon, and I'll add it to the formidable "to be read" pile.  ;D
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on January 25, 2010, 01:44:44 PM
Thanks!  I'll see which of these I can put my hands on soon, and I'll add it to the formidable "to be read" pile.

Sounds like your pile is no less daunting than mine .... One quality of these in my list is that all three are not very long and each could be read in an afternoon if it came to a squeeze; their essentially anecdotal character makes them easy to absorb.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: drogulus on February 07, 2010, 07:27:54 AM

     I'm listening to The Kingdom, and thinking about what is meant by musical genius. The Prelude, in the last 3 minutes, is an example of what genius sounds like to me. What does a genius do? Whatever is necessary? Yes, of course, but what is often necessary involves repetition where it isn't expected and cuts with missing beats. The beats aren't filled in, they just go missing. So when I hum the theme I do what people often do, I get it wrong by underestimating the number of repeated phrases and I restore beats that were removed. Or better yet, Elgar heard the music without the beats, if you can do that. I think he wrote the theme and played it back and at some point just cut out a measure here and there. The result is magical, otherworldly. Or it didn't happen that way at all, but some other way, and I can only imagine it like this.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on February 07, 2010, 12:30:38 PM
The result is magical, otherworldly.

To me that is Elgar's trademark.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: drogulus on February 12, 2010, 09:03:20 AM
      I hate to keep harping on the Prelude* but I just got a chance to compare the Hickox version to the Boult. The Hickox must be a very good performance to achieve the magical quality I talked about, but I'm afraid that a direct comparison with Boult's 1968 recording is not flattering. It's a shame in a way since Hickox has done a fine job and even now I can't complain. It's just that Boult plays this music with more inflection, as though thinking with Elgar's mind. No doubt some of this is due to the fact that Boult has been setting the standard for Elgar for almost a century. Yet I think even if you could listen with fresh ears you would quickly come to think that this is how the music should go.

      * {obviously lying} (http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/Smileys/classic/cheesy.gif)

      I don't think you can beat this:

      Elgar conducting the BBC SO in the Prelude to The Kingdom. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VVU9CXPq-oo)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on March 08, 2010, 07:45:40 AM
It'll kill Poju . . . our man in Maine reports:
 
Quote
Elgar, so much representative of British classical music, will no longer be a "legal tender" as of June the 30th.

Here's the dish. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/blog/2010/mar/08/edward-elgar-20-note)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on March 08, 2010, 11:08:25 AM
It'll kill Poju . . . our man in Maine reports:
 
Here's the dish. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/blog/2010/mar/08/edward-elgar-20-note)

He's had a good run. For a guy who merely wanted to reach the level of fame that meant letters addressed to 'Edward Elgar, England' would reach him, I'd say that to have his face on the currency for ten years would seem a pretty good outcome.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on March 08, 2010, 11:11:20 AM
Aye.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on March 08, 2010, 11:18:05 AM
Aye.

Just putting the finishing touches to my letter. There...
Now, sealing the envelope ....

'Karl Henning, America'

That should do it. See you on a dollar bill in a few years' time, Karl.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on March 08, 2010, 11:25:29 AM
He's had a good run. For a guy who merely wanted to reach the level of fame that meant letters addressed to 'Edward Elgar, England' would reach him, I'd say that to have his face on the currency for ten years would seem a pretty good outcome.

Modest guy.  Replaced by the Spice Girls, I take it?
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: eyeresist on March 08, 2010, 04:12:52 PM
This decision was actually taken a couple of years ago, I believe.

Art replaced by commerce.
 
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on March 09, 2010, 07:56:54 AM
It'll kill Poju . . . our man in Maine reports:

It didn't kill me. It just makes me more frustrated and depressed.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on March 09, 2010, 08:00:28 AM
The verb is figurative, you see.  As I wrote it, it has the virtue of brevity.  It'll frustrate and depress Poju yet more just doesn't sing.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Sergeant Rock on March 09, 2010, 08:07:12 AM
It didn't kill me. It just makes me more frustrated and depressed.

As frustrated and depressed as I was when we lost the Deutschmark and my beloved Clara Schumann:

(http://www.geneva.edu/~dksmith/clara/cla1.jpg)


Sarge
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on March 09, 2010, 08:11:03 AM
That's a handsome note, Sarge!
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on March 09, 2010, 08:47:24 AM
As frustrated and depressed as I was when we lost the Deutschmark and my beloved Clara Schumann:

(http://www.geneva.edu/~dksmith/clara/cla1.jpg)


Sarge

Well, we had my favorite architect Alvar Aalto on the 50 mk note.

 
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Sergeant Rock on March 09, 2010, 10:45:05 AM
That's a handsome note, Sarge!

Well, it was, sniff, sniff...I miss the old broad.

Sarge
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on March 09, 2010, 01:51:22 PM
The really sad thing about Elgar is that, in spite of the modern tendency to sweep him away along with Imperialism and all that it implies culturally, he never actually felt a part of all that. To the end, he felt like a jumped-up violin teacher; a tradesman made good. Always an outsider. That comment, about wanting to be famous enough that a letter marked 'Edward Elgar, England' would reach him, tells a sad tale really; it's the tale of a tradesman who was overly conscious of his status in society, never able to overcome those rigid cultural barriers. Even knighted, and his music feted, he was never able to accept his success himself for what it was - and I rather think that there was no accolade, no distinction, no decoration, that would have satisfied him, because the need ran too deep.

I think that need fed all his rather strange relationships with women (in different ways), and drove the sense of longing for acceptance that pervades so much of his music (and which makes Elgar so much 'my' composer because I recognise so much of my own deepest longings in his music). That persistent striving for 'nobilmente' in his music is entirely misunderstood when people start talking about Jingoism. It's actually the opposite - it represents a search for an ideal that he hadn't found, and couldn't find, but could only project onto British Imperialism because it was the nearest thing to the Arthurian chivalric ideal that he'd got.

And the desperately sad fact is that if someone had been able to see the future, and had told Elgar that he would become so famous that his image would be engraved on British currency for ten years, he would have shrugged disconsolately and said: 'But only ten years, you see. Then they took me off.' At the core of Elgar there is a desperately insecure man, longing for somewhere, some way, to belong.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on March 09, 2010, 02:23:07 PM
As frustrated and depressed as I was when we lost the Deutschmark and my beloved Clara Schumann:

(http://www.geneva.edu/~dksmith/clara/cla1.jpg)


Sarge

Whoever did the ingraving was a hack.  Why does the mouth look so oddly crimped?  No sign of that anomaly in the image that was used as the basis for it.

(http://www.wiehl.de/buergerinfo/zeitung/2003-04/clara_schumann.jpg)

Really, they should have used this image.

More fetching.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on March 09, 2010, 03:24:51 PM
The really sad thing about Elgar is that, in spite of the modern tendency to sweep him away along with Imperialism and all that it implies culturally, he never actually felt a part of all that. To the end, he felt like a jumped-up violin teacher; a tradesman made good. Always an outsider. That comment, about wanting to be famous enough that a letter marked 'Edward Elgar, England' would reach him, tells a sad tale really; it's the tale of a tradesman who was overly conscious of his status in society, never able to overcome those rigid cultural barriers. Even knighted, and his music feted, he was never able to accept his success himself for what it was - and I rather think that there was no accolade, no distinction, no decoration, that would have satisfied him, because the need ran too deep.

I think that need fed all his rather strange relationships with women (in different ways), and drove the sense of longing for acceptance that pervades so much of his music (and which makes Elgar so much 'my' composer because I recognise so much of my own deepest longings in his music). That persistent striving for 'nobilmente' in his music is entirely misunderstood when people start talking about Jingoism. It's actually the opposite - it represents a search for an ideal that he hadn't found, and couldn't find, but could only project onto British Imperialism because it was the nearest thing to the Arthurian chivalric ideal that he'd got.

And the desperately sad fact is that if someone had been able to see the future, and had told Elgar that he would become so famous that his image would be engraved on British currency for ten years, he would have shrugged disconsolately and said: 'But only ten years, you see. Then they took me off.' At the core of Elgar there is a desperately insecure man, longing for somewhere, some way, to belong.

Lovely post, sieur. Thank you.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Sergeant Rock on March 09, 2010, 03:48:39 PM
Why does the mouth look so oddly crimped?

She's puckering up to give us a kiss, of course  :)

Sarge
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on March 09, 2010, 03:52:46 PM

Quote from: Scarpia
Why does the mouth look so oddly crimped?

She's puckering up to give us a kiss, of course  :)

Sarge

Or, she's thinking, Robert thinks his portrait should be here!
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on March 09, 2010, 11:54:35 PM
At the core of Elgar there is a desperately insecure man, longing for somewhere, some way, to belong.

To me, the most interesting aspect of Elgar's music is the clash between the swaggering, outgoing persona he sets up and the feelings of doubt and unease that arise to undermine that persona.

It took me a while to hear that. But now I think it's the most distinctive part of his compositional style.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on March 10, 2010, 12:59:15 AM
To me, the most interesting aspect of Elgar's music is the clash between the swaggering, outgoing persona he sets up and the feelings of doubt and unease that arise to undermine that persona.

It took me a while to hear that. But now I think it's the most distinctive part of his compositional style.

I think of it slightly differently, as a tussle between the public life and the private life (nowhere explored so searchingly as in the violin concerto, perhaps), but I think we're talking about essentially the same thing.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: knight66 on March 14, 2010, 02:58:42 AM
Help please!

Despite received opinion that Elgar's 2nd Symphony is finer than his first. I have always preferred Number 1. It is some time since I gave the Second an outing and I always enjoyed it. The only recording I have is Solti. I listened to it yesterday and suddenly, it sounded bombastic and overblown. I turned it off after the third movement.

I want to reclaim it if I can. Can someone recommend me a version; preferably in good sound?

I have several versions of No 1, amongst them Colin Davis with he LSO. I keep it for the final movement which is stupendous, but I think he takes the main theme of the first movement much too slowly. I would probably be happy with him in No 1 as long as there is nothing eccentric about what he does with it.

Mike
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Sergeant Rock on March 14, 2010, 03:28:31 AM
Help please!

Despite received opinion that Elgar's 2nd Symphony is finer than his first. I have always preferred Number 1. It is some time since I gave the Second an outing and I always enjoyed it. The only recording I have is Solti. I listened to it yesterday and suddenly, it sounded bombastic and overblown. I turned it off after the third movement.

I want to reclaim it if I can. Can someone recommend me a version; preferably in good sound?

I have several versions of No 1, amongst them Colin Davis with he LSO. I keep it for the final movement which is stupendous, but I think he takes the main theme of the first movement much too slowly. I would probably be happy with him in No 1 as long as there is nothing eccentric about what he does with it.

Mike

I think you wouldn't like my favorites (Sinopoli and Tate...both far slower than the norm). Penguin recommends the budget priced Handley (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Elgar-Symphony-No-2-Sea-Pictures/dp/B0000647HL/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1268565825&sr=1-1) and Downes (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Elgar-Symphony-BBC-Philharmonic-Orchestra/dp/B00002605I/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1268565758&sr=1-4).

Sarge


Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: DavidRoss on March 14, 2010, 03:58:08 AM
Hahn's recording of the Opus 61, while certainly a pleasant enough listen, is a bit too girly and light of tread.  I suspect I always knew this, but its truth was especially emphasized by the gutsy, commanding performance Znaider gave of the work at Symphony this past weekend.  (He plays it again tonight, I believe.)
I agree about Hahn's Elgar, but love that disc for RVW's Lark, the loveliest among the half-dozen or so in my collection.  I seem to have imprinted on Nigel Kennedy's second recording of Elgar's cto, the one w/Rattie, compared to which Hahn sounds feminine if not quite girly.  (For some reason the term "girly" always brings Richard Simmons to mind.)  Come to think of it, I prefer Kennedy's masculine Brahms VC to Hahn's feminine one, too.

What makes her playing seem "feminine?"  Is it the consistently sweet tone?  Are her attacks less fierce than fluid?  Her runs more agile than aggressive?  I've not sought to analyze it, but I've felt that way about her playing from the time I first heard her.  (Not that there's anything wrong with that.)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on March 14, 2010, 03:58:41 AM
Help please!

Despite received opinion that Elgar's 2nd Symphony is finer than his first.

Yes, it's true that the 2nd is a finer work. When you agree with that then you know you understand Elgar's music!  ;)

I have always preferred Number 1. It is some time since I gave the Second an outing and I always enjoyed it. The only recording I have is Solti. I listened to it yesterday and suddenly, it sounded bombastic and overblown. I turned it off after the third movement.
It's a sign of not truly understanding Elgar if you find it bombastic and overblown. It's like complaining about Bach's music being contrapuntal. Listen "beyond" the loud orchestral bits and find all the subtleties of Elgar's music. Don't compare Elgar with composer with thin orchestration style. Forget about other composers while listening to Elgar and hear what he is able to do with his thick style! Listening with headphones helps a lot because Elgar benefits from analytical listening (perhaps that is where many go wrong with Elgar thinking it's only emotional music?)

I want to reclaim it if I can. Can someone recommend me a version; preferably in good sound?
Downes on Naxos is the way to go.

Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: DavidRoss on March 14, 2010, 04:00:08 AM
Just putting the finishing touches to my letter. There...
Now, sealing the envelope ....

'Karl Henning, America'

That should do it. See you on a dollar bill in a few years' time, Karl.
Only the one dollar bill?  Not the twenty?  Or the fifty?  Oh, well...so long as it's not the three, I suppose.  (Not that there's anything wrong with that.)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: DavidRoss on March 14, 2010, 04:05:25 AM
Despite received opinion that Elgar's 2nd Symphony is finer than his first. I have always preferred Number 1. It is some time since I gave the Second an outing and I always enjoyed it. The only recording I have is Solti. I listened to it yesterday and suddenly, it sounded bombastic and overblown. I turned it off after the third movement.
Can't help, Mike.  I prefer the first, too, and seldom make it all the way through the second, so put off am I by the bombast.  (Not that there's anything wrong with that.)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: knight66 on March 14, 2010, 04:12:37 AM
I guess what I am trying to grasp is whether the bombast is Elgar or Solti. Some bombast is fine, but I felt as though Solti had given me a battering.

Sarge, yes, I don't want it as though it is happening under water.

BTW, a few days ago I heard an extract of this:

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41xOlT7s%2BcL._SL500_AA240_.jpg)

It sounded terrific and I have just ordered it.

Mike
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: DavidRoss on March 14, 2010, 04:15:43 AM
I guess what I am trying to grasp is whether the bombast is Elgar or Solti. Some bombast is fine, but I felt as though Solti had given me a battering.
It's not just Solti.  The Davis/LSO recording I have sounds as if Colonel Blimp is at the helm.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: knight66 on March 14, 2010, 04:16:43 AM
 :o
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Sergeant Rock on March 14, 2010, 04:23:22 AM
I guess what I am trying to grasp is whether the bombast is Elgar or Solti. Some bombast is fine, but I felt as though Solti had given me a battering.

Solti's version is very close to Elgar's own so yeah, it may be the music not the performance. Handley has a reputaton for straight-forward, non-eccentric interpretations. Penguin praises the sound quality, too, and says Downes is more distantly recorded, lessening the impact. But maybe that would be a plus in your case.

Sarge
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Sergeant Rock on March 14, 2010, 04:30:19 AM
Can't help, Mike.  I prefer the first, too, and seldom make it all the way through the second, so put off am I by the bombast.  (Not that there's anything wrong with that.)

 :D ;D :D  ..nice Seinfeld allusion, David.

Elgar's Second is the very definition of hyper-Late Romanticism. To me it's an emotional roller-coaster, akin to Mahler especially in the versions I prefer--which prolong the "agony"  ;D  Definitely one of my favorite symphonies and yes, it a masterpiece of its kind. Not for everyone obviously.

Sarge
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: DavidRoss on March 14, 2010, 04:43:12 AM
:D ;D :D  ..nice Seinfeld allusion, David.
It's gratifying when I'm not the only one amused by my little jokes.  ;D
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: knight66 on March 14, 2010, 11:15:21 AM
Sarge, Thanks. I had read that Elgar's own recording was rather reticent and lacking in drama. Anyway, I will get hold of another version. Perhaps it was just the mood I was in as I have known the symphony for many years.

Mike
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on March 14, 2010, 11:40:44 AM
Sarge, Thanks. I had read that Elgar's own recording was rather reticent and lacking in drama. Anyway, I will get hold of another version. Perhaps it was just the mood I was in as I have known the symphony for many years.

Mike

No one de-bombastifies Elgar like Barbirolli.

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51nuU6e8ylL._SL500_AA240_.jpg)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: eyeresist on March 15, 2010, 12:15:54 AM
Solti's version is very close to Elgar's own

This conventional wisdom is questionable. Where did it originate?

You might think the musical connection would be made clear in the August 1972 Gramophone review of the Solti 1st symphony (http://www.gramophone.net/Issue/Page/August%201972/47/855198/ELGAR.+Symphony+No.+1+in+A+flat+major%2C+Op.+55.+London+Philharmonic+Orch+estra+conducted+by+Sir+Georg+Solti.+Decca+SXL6569+%28L215%29.), but that review is largely full of high-spoken waffle.

What the reviewer does specifically say about the performance is that no-one after Elgar gave the motto theme sufficient "movement and lift", nor tied the various tempos together with sufficient terseness - the implication is that Solti does do these things, but the reviewer does not actually come out and state this. All other descriptions of the actual performance make the point of how much this differs from Elgar's approach:
Quote
Not that Solti follows Elgar slavishly. It would be easy to point out dozens of divergent points, but the real difference is one of spirit. Elgar's conviction was something born of an intense creative intimacy. Solti's approach is naturally more distant— almost, one might say, more 'sophisticated'. The conviction is less prominently placed.

The legend that Solti speaks for the composer begins here with the reviewer's assertion that:
Quote
In the April issue (p. 1694) Edward Greenfield contributed a fascinating piece about the sessions which resulted in this new version. And at the basis of Solti's interpretation, he makes clear, is Elgar's own recording. What Mr Greenfield modestly omits to say is that he himself used Elgar's recording to foster Sir Georg's interest in the work.

Now, what exactly is it that Mr. Greenfield actually "made clear"?

The short Gramophone article about the recording session (http://www.gramophone.net/Issue/Page/April%201972/34/854013/HANS+WERNER+HENZE) (scroll down), by Edward Greenfield, appearing in the April 1972 issue, is called "SIR GEORGE'S ELGAR". The only evidence here for Elgar's influence on Solti is:
Quote
...I suggested at once that he should hear the composer's own recording which so passionately develops on what is contained in the score. Since then World Record Club has reissued that historic recording on LP, and Sold has taken advantage of that. This was plain enough in the Festival Hall performance...
...and he goes on to give no specifics whatsoever, in terms of tempo, rubato, portamento (none in Solti's recording, that I can recall), or dynamics.

For myself, I don't hear much Elgar in Solti's hard-bitten attack on the music.
 
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on March 15, 2010, 03:08:48 AM
Yes, it's true that the 2nd is a finer work. When you agree with that then you know you understand Elgar's music!  ;)

Ah, the ever-helpful Poju!
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on March 15, 2010, 03:09:27 AM
Only the one dollar bill?  Not the twenty?  Or the fifty?  Oh, well...so long as it's not the three, I suppose.  (Not that there's anything wrong with that.)

Hah!
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Sergeant Rock on March 15, 2010, 03:31:09 AM
For myself, I don't hear much Elgar in Solti's hard-bitten attack on the music.

You've been talking about Elgar 1 and we're discussing Elgar 2. What Gramophone had to say about Elgar and Solti's Seconds is: "Solti's reading as a whole strikes me as making the closest approach on records to the spirit of Elgar's own (and he has studied the composer's recording, as he says, "very much"). Yet it is no slavish imitation. Solti's eager, driving phraseology, through the big opening statements is more extreme than Elgar's, and almost all his pulses are faster. But they catch Elgar's spirit superbly."

I do hear Elgar in this recording although I don't agree entirely with that quote. For one thing, Solti's overall timing is actually slower than Elgar's in the first movement, and very much slower in the Larghetto (15:30 vs 12:59). The opening of the symphony--speed, phrasing--sounds almost identical. The last two movements are virtual twins as far as timing. To my ears Elgar is as aggressive as Solti (although admittedly Solti's recording sounds fiercer because the inner details are more prominent, reinforcing the rhythmic drive).

Full Gramophone review here (http://www.gramophone.net/Issue/Page/June%201975/38/781302/ELGAR.+Symphony+No.+2+in+E+flat+major%2C+Op.+63.+London+Philharmonic+Orchestra+conducted+by+Sir+Georg+sow.+Decca+SXL6723+(%C2%A32.99).+Selected+comparison%3A#header-logo)

Sarge
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on March 15, 2010, 03:39:20 AM
Any opinions here on Tate/LSO here?  I've had the GEMIni two-fer of the symphonies for a year or more, but haven't listened to them yet (gosh, I wonder why?)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: DavidRoss on March 15, 2010, 03:44:46 AM
No one de-bombastifies Elgar like Barbirolli.

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51nuU6e8ylL._SL500_AA240_.jpg)
Thanks for the reminder.  I listened to this 2nd yesterday and enjoyed it very much.  Grace, poetry, dignity, and beauty abound.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Sergeant Rock on March 15, 2010, 04:00:54 AM
Any opinions here on Tate/LSO here?  I've had the GEMIni two-fer of the symphonies for a year or more, but haven't listened to them yet (gosh, I wonder why?)

Like Sinopoli, Tate is a polar opposite of Elgar's own interpretation. Timings will tell you much:

Solti    15:28   15:30   7:49   12:33

Elgar  14:33   12:59   7:55   12:20

Tate   19:17   17:21   8:28   17:23

I don't find it a soggy performance though. It's rhythmically vital and the sound of the recording is stunning, especially brass and percussion.


Sarge
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on March 15, 2010, 04:24:10 AM
Like Sinopoli, Tate is a polar opposite of Elgar's own interpretation. Timings will tell you much:

Elgar  14:33   12:59   7:55   12:20

Tate   19:17   17:21   8:28   17:23

I don't find it a soggy performance though. It's rhythmically vital and the sound of the recording is stunning, especially brass and percussion.

Thanks, Sarge.  The 'composer's own' look quite brisk!  I wonder if this is anything like Shostakovich, who was reported to play all his own music on the quick side . . . shy diffidence, perhaps a degree of fear (if he were to let the music 'take its time') that he would lose the audience . . . .
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: DavidRoss on March 15, 2010, 04:26:33 AM
FWIW, timings for Barbirolli in the recording above and for Davis/LSO live:

Barbirolli  19:19  13:47  8:18  14:16

Davis       18:23  16:19  8:26  14:30
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Sergeant Rock on March 15, 2010, 04:36:31 AM
Thanks, Sarge.  The 'composer's own' look quite brisk!  I wonder if this is anything like Shostakovich, who was reported to play all his own music on the quick side . . . shy diffidence, perhaps a degree of fear (if he were to let the music 'take its time') that he would lose the audience . . . .

I wouldn't be surprised if that too were the case with Elgar. I read somewhere that when Elgar conducted, his times in the movements could vary from concert to concert by as much as five minutes, depending on certain factors--his own mental state being one. So Tate (and the other conductors who are much slower than the Elgar recording) may not be "wrong."

Barbirolli  19:19  13:47  8:18  14:16

Thanks for the Barbirolli timings, David. I don't own his Elgar--I should rectify that (I do own the Davis box).

Sarge
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Lethevich on March 15, 2010, 04:37:03 AM
Hmm, Davis feels a lot slower than he actually is :-X
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: mc ukrneal on March 15, 2010, 04:47:39 AM
FWIW, timings for Barbirolli in the recording above and for Davis/LSO live:

Barbirolli  19:19  13:47  8:18  14:16

Davis       18:23  16:19  8:26  14:30

Interesting, (EMI version),
Boult        17:33  14:18  8:06  13:14
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on March 15, 2010, 07:37:21 AM
Hmm... ...recent discussion has made me interested about Solti's Elgar.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Sergeant Rock on March 15, 2010, 08:54:05 AM
Hmm... ...recent discussion has made me interested about Solti's Elgar.

I have a lousy record predicting what you will or won't like but I think Solti's Elgar is worth a listen. I listened to his Second twice today; enjoyed it immensely. The Decca twofer that has 1 & 2, Cockaigne and In the South can be had very cheaply from Amazon sellers. (http://www.amazon.de/gp/offer-listing/B00000425P/ref=sr_1_1_olp?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1268671578&sr=1-1&condition=new) The Chung/Solti VC is also good...not as "girly" as Hahn's  ;D

Sarge
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on March 15, 2010, 09:01:21 AM
Thanks for the Barbirolli timings, David. I don't own his Elgar--I should rectify that (I do own the Davis box).

At a bit over 12 pounds for 5 CDs of Elgar/Barbirolli, you can't go far wrong.

(http://www.mdt.co.uk/public/pictures/products/standard/3679182.jpg)
http://www.mdt.co.uk/MDTSite/product/3679182.htm
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Sergeant Rock on March 15, 2010, 09:06:56 AM
At a bit over 12 pounds for 5 CDs of Elgar/Barbirolli, you can't go far wrong.

(http://www.mdt.co.uk/public/pictures/products/standard/3679182.jpg)
http://www.mdt.co.uk/MDTSite/product/3679182.htm

Thanks...that looks like just what I need...or rather, want  :D

Sarge
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on March 15, 2010, 09:45:45 AM
I have a lousy record predicting what you will or won't like but I think Solti's Elgar is worth a listen. I listened to his Second twice today; enjoyed it immensely. The Decca twofer that has 1 & 2, Cockaigne and In the South can be had very cheaply from Amazon sellers. (http://www.amazon.de/gp/offer-listing/B00000425P/ref=sr_1_1_olp?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1268671578&sr=1-1&condition=new) The Chung/Solti VC is also good...not as "girly" as Hahn's  ;D

Sarge
Thanks, I was looking myself that set already. In my case UK Amazon might be the cheapest option (6 € postage compared to £1.79). The main problem is my INTENSE collecting of Doctor Who DVDs, something that eats up about half or more of monthly online shopping budget. The other half has gone to Bach, Tangerine Dream etc. (I am having a Bach-period). Elgar needs to wait (there's tons of Elgar on my wish list...)  :'(

Why Doctor Who? Couple of years ago I hardly knew about this British legend. They never showed it on Finish TV until recently when they showed it on pay-channels (scifi channel) that I happen to have. I fell in love with the show instantly. It's my thing! It's CRAZY in a wonderful naive but inventive/bold/funny way. Today I got Dalek War set (Frontier in Space + Planet of the Daleks).  :D

Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: knight66 on March 15, 2010, 12:32:38 PM
Thanks guys, an interesting set of opinions. I am still dithering, which is very unlike me, I bought my house faster than this!

Mike
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: drogulus on March 15, 2010, 02:25:14 PM
:D ;D :D  ..nice Seinfeld allusion, David.

Elgar's Second is the very definition of hyper-Late Romanticism. To me it's an emotional roller-coaster, akin to Mahler especially in the versions I prefer--which prolong the "agony"  ;D  Definitely one of my favorite symphonies and yes, it a masterpiece of its kind. Not for everyone obviously.

Sarge

     I agree. Though I don't see why it isn't for everyone just because everyone isn't for it. (http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/Smileys/classic/smiley.gif)

     I guess it raises the same issue I raised elsewhere about kinds of difficulty. There's not just the modernist difficulty to deal with there are also the late Romantics. You have to make allowances for them, too, as well as for oddballs like Bax, Brian, etc who don't slot easily into a modernist teleology.

     For less (but not non) bombast I'd give Boult/Lyrita a try. He takes a more detailed approach than Handley, my all time champ in the 2nd Symphony. If I were to sample a non-Brit approach instinct would lead me to Haitink before Solti.

     Elgar lovers owe it to themselves to get the Boult/EMI choral music box set.

     (http://pixhost.ws/avaxhome/90/b5/000cb590_medium.jpeg)

The Music Makers, Op.69
Janet Baker, mezzo-soprano
London Philharmonic Choir
(chorus master: Frederic Jackson)
London Philharmonic Orchestra
dir. Sir Adrian Boult
Recorded: 21-23.XII.1966, No.1 Studio, Abbey Road, London

The Dream of Gerontius, Op.38
Helen Watts (mezzo-soprano) ... The Angel
Nicolai Gedda (tenor) ... Gerontius / Soul of Gerontius
Robert Lloyd (bass) ... The Priest / The Angel of the Agony
John Alldis Choir
London Philharmonic Choir
(chorus master: John Alldis)
New Philharmonia Orchestra
dir. Sir Adrian Boult
Recorded: 18.V & 18, 21, 24, 27 & 31.VII.1975, Kingsway Hall, London

The Apostles
Sheila Armstrong (soprano) ... The Blessed Virgin / The Angel
Robert Tear (tenor) ... St John
Benjamin Luxon (bass) ... St Peter
Clifford Grant (bass) ... Judas
John Carol Case (bass) ... Jesus
Choir of Downe House School
(director of music: Dorothy Dickinson)
London Philharmonic Choir
(chorus master: John Alldis)
London Philharmonic Orchestra
dir. Sir Adrian Boult
Recorded: 23, 29 & 30.X, 5 & 7.XI and 20 & 31.XII.1973 and 2.VII.1974, Kingsway Hall, London

The Apostles & The Kingdom: An illustrated introduction by Sir Adrian Boult
(Elgar's use of leitmotiv)
Script by Michael Kennedy and Sir Adrian Boult

Excerpts from The Apostles, The Kingdom and The Light of Life conducted by Sir Adrian Boult
Excerpts from The Dreams of Gerontius conducted by Sir John Barbirolli
Recorded: 24.VI.1974, Abbey Road Studios, London

The Kingdom, Op.51
Margaret Price (soprano) ... The Blessed Virgin
Yvonne Minton (contralto) ... Mary Magdalene
Alexander Young (tenor) ... St John
John Shirley-Quirk (bass) ... St Peter
London Philharmonic Choir
(chorus master: John Alldis)
London Philharmonic Orchestra
dir. Sir Adrian Boult
Recorded: 16-18 & 20-22.XII.1968, Kingsway Hall, London

Coronation Ode, Op.44
Felicity Lott (soprano), Alfreda Hodgson (contralto),
Richard Morton (tenor), Stephen Roberts (bass)
Cambridge University Musical Society Chorus
Choir of King's College, Cambridge New Philharmonia Orchestra
Band of the Royal Military School of Music, Kneller Hall
dir. Philip Ledger
Recorded: 7 & 8.II.1977, Chapel of King's College, Cambridge

     
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: kishnevi on March 15, 2010, 07:23:29 PM
Any opinions here on Tate/LSO here?  I've had the GEMIni two-fer of the symphonies for a year or more, but haven't listened to them yet (gosh, I wonder why?)
You owe yourself a listen.
 That's my only recording of the Symphonies.  By happenstance, I played Symphony 1 last night, and it's been so long since I've played it, it was like hearing a brand new work all over--and impressed me.  I will be playing it a good deal more often than I have been.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: knight66 on March 15, 2010, 10:59:07 PM
I have ordered the Tate as being at the opposite poll to Solti. The deal includes No 1. I hope it will enable me to fall for that second symphomy all over again. Now of course if it sounds boring.............

I wonder what Tate is up to these days? I have not scoured the European concert schedules, but I have not seen any discs from him for quite some time.

MIke
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Sergeant Rock on March 16, 2010, 03:03:47 AM
Hmm, Davis feels a lot slower than he actually is :-X

And in the First Symphony he is actually slow--which when combined with the feeling that he's actually slower than he actually is, actually makes him dead in the water  ;D  :D

Seriously, even I (with my near fetish for slow tempos) find Davis just too slow in that performance.

Sarge
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Sergeant Rock on March 16, 2010, 04:16:49 AM
I wonder what Tate is up to these days? I have not scoured the European concert schedules, but I have not seen any discs from him for quite some time.
MIke

Yes, Tate is another conductor who seems to have dropped off the map after an impressive recording career in the 80s and early 90s. He was a favorite of mine: his Elgar, Haydn symphonies, the Mozart PC cycle with Uchida, Arabella with Te Kanawa. Wiki says: "He was principal conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra from 1991 to 1995. In 2005, he was appointed music director of the San Carlo Theatre of Naples. In October 2007, the Hamburg Symphony Orchestra announced the appointment of Tate as its next chief conductor, as of the spring of 2008." What was he up to between 1995 and 2005?

Sarge
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: mc ukrneal on March 16, 2010, 04:25:17 AM
Yes, Tate is another conductor who seems to have dropped off the map after an impressive recording career in the 80s and early 90s. He was a favorite of mine: his Elgar, Haydn symphonies, the Mozart PC cycle with Uchida, Arabella with Te Kanawa. Wiki says: "He was principal conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra from 1991 to 1995. In 2005, he was appointed music director of the San Carlo Theatre of Naples. In October 2007, the Hamburg Symphony Orchestra announced the appointment of Tate as its next chief conductor, as of the spring of 2008." What was he up to between 1995 and 2005?

Sarge

Perhaps these will help:
http://www.cami.com/worddocs/worddocs490/Biography_Tate.pdf
http://www.naxos.com/conductorinfo/jeffrey_tate/32015.htm
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Sergeant Rock on March 16, 2010, 04:31:14 AM
Perhaps these will help:

They do. It appears he was working primarily in Italy in the late 90s and on into the new century, and guest conducting elsewhere.

Sarge
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: knight66 on March 16, 2010, 05:12:45 AM
According to that first biog, I must be living the life of a deaf hermit to have managed to avoid him for any two week period in the last 20 years. The Naxos piece felt more genuinely informative. Good to know he is still productive and clearly well thought of. I had assumed he was held back by ill health.

I listened to the clips of his Elgar set, liked what I heard. So I am looking forward to the postman calling.

Mike
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Sergeant Rock on March 17, 2010, 08:09:21 AM
I listened to the clips of his Elgar set, liked what I heard. So I am looking forward to the postman calling.
Mike

I hope you like the Tate performances, Mike.

Scarpia, David, the Barbirolli Elgar box I ordered Monday arrived today. I already had a CD containing the Du Pré Cello Concerto and Baker's Sea Pictures (who doesn't?) and Falstaff and Enigma, but the symphonies, overtures, marches and shorter works are new to my collection.

Sarge
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on March 17, 2010, 08:23:27 AM
I hope you like the Tate performances, Mike.

Scarpia, David, the Barbirolli Elgar box I ordered Monday arrived today. I already had a CD containing the Du Pré Cello Concerto and Baker's Sea Pictures (who doesn't?) and Falstaff and Enigma, but the symphonies, overtures, marches and shorter works are new to my collection.

Sarge

The symphonies are the only ones I have from that set.  Superb.  I hope you're up for some world-class Barbirolli grunting.   :D
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: DavidRoss on March 17, 2010, 08:34:53 AM
Scarpia, David, the Barbirolli Elgar box I ordered Monday arrived today. I already had a CD containing the Du Pré Cello Concerto and Baker's Sea Pictures (who doesn't?) and Falstaff and Enigma, but the symphonies, overtures, marches and shorter works are new to my collection.
Sarge, in addition to the symphonies and the terrific Cello Cto (my second favorite after Tortelier), that box includes the terrific works for strings:  Sospiri, Elegy, Intro & Allegro, and the Serenade.  Enjoy!
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on March 17, 2010, 08:41:34 AM
that box includes the terrific works for strings:  Sospiri, Elegy, Intro & Allegro, and the Serenade.  Enjoy!

Yes, from this famous collection, which also includes the best Vaughan Williams Tallis Fantasie ever recorded (IMO).

(http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2000/apr00/elgar-VW.jpg)


Now the question, what is the best "Dream of Gerontius" available in good sound?  I am attracted to the idea of the Barbirolli recording, but for I fear the engineering may not be up to the challenge.

Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on March 17, 2010, 09:05:54 AM
Now the question, what is the best "Dream of Gerontius" available in good sound?  I am attracted to the idea of the Barbirolli recording, but for I fear the engineering may not be up to the challenge.

The sound quality of the Barbirolli recording is okay but only okay. Mark Elder's Gerontius on Hallé label is probably the best Gerontius with high sound quality but I haven't heard it yet.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: DavidRoss on March 17, 2010, 09:07:51 AM
Now the question, what is the best "Dream of Gerontius" available in good sound?  I am attracted to the idea of the Barbirolli recording, but for I fear the engineering may not be up to the challenge.
Beats me.  The only recording I have is Barbirolli's with Janet Baker.  The sound is not the issue for me, nor the performance.  ;)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Sergeant Rock on March 17, 2010, 09:12:13 AM
I can't help either. I own Boult and Britten. But I am a fan of Baker so the Barbirolli recording is probably in my future.

The sound quality of the Barbirolli recording is okay but only okay. Mark Elder's Gerontius on Hallé label is probably the best Gerontius with high sound quality but I haven't heard it yet.


Another version with reputedly excellent sound is Hickox on Chandos.

Sarge
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on March 17, 2010, 09:28:53 AM
I can't help either. I own Boult and Britten. But I am a fan of Baker so the Barbirolli recording is probably in my future.
 

Another version with reputedly excellent sound is Hickox on Chandos.

Sarge

Hickox is on the radar, certainly.  Anyone have experience with the LSO live recording with Colin Davis?

Also, what of Elgar's 3rd, again, there's Hickox.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: knight66 on March 17, 2010, 09:39:22 AM
I love the Barbirolli Gerontius and it can be had for the price of a bottle of wine. Even if the sound is a little constricted, it is worth it for the performance and Baker has never been bettered as the Angel. The chorus is well drilled and the sound is quite forward, no blurring from a recessed sound picture.

However, with Elder you would be in for a treat. Here is a link to my review.

http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,10121.msg254182.html#msg254182

Buy both!

Mike
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on March 17, 2010, 09:51:36 AM
I love the Barbirolli Gerontius and it can be had for the price of a bottle of wine. Even if the sound is a little constricted, it is worth it for the performance and Baker has never been bettered as the Angel. The chorus is well drilled and the sound is quite forward, no blurring from a recessed sound picture.

However, with Elder you would be in for a treat. Here is a link to my review.

http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,10121.msg254182.html#msg254182

Buy both!

Mike

A bottle of wine?  Not a well defined definition of cost.  But I think I will start with the Barbirolli and go from there.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Sergeant Rock on March 17, 2010, 09:53:54 AM
Buy both!

Okay, okay...I will  ;D  They're both in stock at JPC and the price of the Elder has been reduced to €17.99...nice.

Sarge
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: knight66 on March 17, 2010, 10:00:07 AM
I was thinking of a supermarket basic bottle. Amazon UK are selling the Gerontius with The Music Makers for £6.93.

BTW, I have that wonderful Barbirolli English String Music disc, perfection and therefore very satisfying.

Mike
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on March 17, 2010, 11:10:13 AM
Another version with reputedly excellent sound is Hickox on Chandos.

Sarge

I have these Hickox releases:

- The Light of Life
- Caractacus/Severn Suite

Both are very good imo.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on March 17, 2010, 11:24:53 AM
I was thinking of a supermarket basic bottle. Amazon UK are selling the Gerontius with The Music Makers for £6.93.

BTW, I have that wonderful Barbirolli English String Music disc, perfection and therefore very satisfying.

Mike

Ok, have the Barbirolli on order.  Put off any others until I determine if I can stand the piece at all.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: DavidRoss on March 17, 2010, 12:13:47 PM
Ok, have the Barbirolli on order.  Put off any others until I determine if I can stand the piece at all.
I keep trying.   ;)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: knight66 on March 17, 2010, 12:17:02 PM
Ok, have the Barbirolli on order.  Put off any others until I determine if I can stand the piece at all.

I will be interested to read what you think. It does tend to move people or bring them out in hives.

My very first choral performance was in Gerontius with Alexander Gibson, Robert Tear and Alfreda Hodgson. That was a London Prom.

Despite all the singing and the soloists and the excitement of the occasion, it was Gibson's way with the two preludes that really moved me. He was very much a hit or miss conductor, that night was one of his best.

Mike
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: drogulus on March 17, 2010, 02:42:25 PM
     The Barbirolli was remastered in the '90s. These are both the remastered version, and I find the sound is good for the era:

     (http://www.esounds.com/esounds/img/packshots/0094639197828-lf.jpg)

     (http://img.maniadb.com/images/album/166/166600_1_f.jpg) 

         
     The GROC is coupled with Boult's recording of The Music Makers, which makes it a first choice, especially since Janet Baker sings in this one, too. The picture-in-picture on the GROC cover shows the LP, I think. The CD box with that cover is the original digital master which you should avoid.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: kishnevi on March 17, 2010, 08:29:42 PM
I have both the Barbirolli (in the GROC incarnation) and the Elder. Overall, I prefer the Elder because of the modern sound; musicality ends up being roughly even.   I just noticed one oddity: Elder's version, going by the timings on the back of the CD covers, is roughly 10 minutes longer. (More precisely, his Part I is 11 1/2 minutes longer, while his Part II is 1 1/2-2 minutes shorter.)  And BTW, Barbirolli's orchestra was also the Halle.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Sergeant Rock on March 19, 2010, 06:25:39 AM
     (http://www.esounds.com/esounds/img/packshots/0094639197828-lf.jpg)
     (http://img.maniadb.com/images/album/166/166600_1_f.jpg) 

Thanks for the info. I bought the non-GROC. Three reasons: it was in stock at JPC (GROC wasn't); it's cheaper; and I already have the Boult/Baker/Music Makers (it was included in the EMI choral box). Both Elder and Barbirolli arrived today. Sarge is a happy camper.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on March 19, 2010, 07:24:32 AM
All is now gas & gaiters!
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on March 19, 2010, 07:45:01 AM
Thanks for the info. I bought the non-GROC. Three reasons: it was in stock at JPC (GROC wasn't); it's cheaper; and I already have the Boult/Baker/Music Makers (it was included in the EMI choral box). Both Elder and Barbirolli arrived today. Sarge is a happy camper.

I've put off this purchase due to version uncertainty.  What is the remastering date for the non-GROC version that you have?  (I'm wondering if it is the same as the GROC or the same as the original issue.)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Sergeant Rock on March 19, 2010, 08:06:51 AM
I've put off this purchase due to version uncertainty.  What is the remastering date for the non-GROC version that you have?  (I'm wondering if it is the same as the GROC or the same as the original issue.)

My non-GROC version says, "Newly digitally remastered at Abbey Road Studios, 1999."

Sarge
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on March 19, 2010, 08:17:10 AM
My non-GROC version says, "Newly digitally remastered at Abbey Road Studios, 1999."

Sarge

I see, that makes things complicated.  After poking around the EMI web site I discovered that this information is there of you know where to look (under "track listings").  The GROC is a 2007 remaster, the one you have is 1999, and the original box is 1989.  My experience is any EMI master before 1990 is far from optimum, but I don't imagine there is an enormous difference between 1999 and 2007.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: knight66 on March 19, 2010, 08:27:20 AM
The Tate Elgar Symphonies have arrived. I am glad that Sarge convinced me of the value of Tate's approach. The second is now restored to me. I am puzzled at the considerable added timing Tate conjours; as it does not feel one moment overlong. He allows the music to breath as against Solti's driven reading. Tate's journey is much more to my liking and having just listened to it, I am about to replay it.

At some point I will get to Symphony Number 1, but no urgency.

Mike
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on March 19, 2010, 08:37:42 AM
Dig it!
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on March 19, 2010, 08:40:58 AM
What of Payne's completion of the Symphony No. 3?  I've had the Hickox recording in my shopping cart for a while.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Sergeant Rock on March 19, 2010, 08:50:35 AM
Tate's journey is much more to my liking and having just listened to it, I am about to replay it.
Mike

I'm pleased you're enjoying it. And I can breathe easier now...  ;)

All is now gas & gaiters!

It would be if only they'd delivered my bottled lightning and thunder sandwich too  ;D

Sarge
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on March 19, 2010, 08:52:12 AM
I'm pleased you're enjoying it. And I can breathe easier now...  ;)

I do need to listen to mine, at last . . . .
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Sergeant Rock on March 19, 2010, 08:56:36 AM
What of Payne's completion of the Symphony No. 3?  I've had the Hickox recording in my shopping cart for a while.

I've only heard it a couple of times, and not recently (own Davis/LSO and Daniel/Bournemouth). If the composer is important to you I think it's worth hearing, in fact, demands to be heard just like Mahler 10. I enjoy it that way: with the realization that it isn't the composer pure but better than nothing.

Sarge
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Sergeant Rock on March 19, 2010, 08:59:03 AM
I do need to listen to mine, at last . . . .

How about on that long car ride from Boston? No, on second thought a car's environment is not ideal for late Romantic symphonies.

Sarge
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on March 19, 2010, 09:01:22 AM
How about on that long car ride from Boston? No, on second thought a car's environment is not ideal for late Romantic symphonies.

No, the environment wouldn't do justice to the music . . . and the music isn't what I'm looking for driving home for a bit more than an hour, late in the evening.

The Tate must wate until the other side of the Passion this weekend.  But next week, for certain!
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: DavidRoss on March 19, 2010, 09:08:43 AM
It would be if only they'd delivered my bottled lightning and thunder sandwich too  ;D

Vegemite?  ;D
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: drogulus on March 19, 2010, 01:25:20 PM
I see, that makes things complicated.  After poking around the EMI web site I discovered that this information is there of you know where to look (under "track listings").  The GROC is a 2007 remaster, the one you have is 1999, and the original box is 1989.  My experience is any EMI master before 1990 is far from optimum, but I don't imagine there is an enormous difference between 1999 and 2007.

     I don't trust this information. "Remaster" can be ambiguous. They may have made some adjustment to the levels, or simply made a new digital copy. The Music Makers may not have been remastered either.

     The earlier TMM CD, coupled with Boult's 1975 Gerontius, was very hot (94.5 on my hot-o-meter, which is insane for classical music). I had to take it down 5 dB in Audacity (converting to 24 bit first) so it would play properly on non-Replaygain-able devices. And when I got the Boult box with TMM it was identical. If TMM is very loud on the GROC they didn't remaster it in any important sense because they didn't fix it. If it's normal sounding they did remaster it in a useful way.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on March 19, 2010, 03:59:53 PM
So EMI has made a hash of it, have they.  Well, I'm afraid I'm out of the market for Gerontius.  I have my choice between ham-handed remasterings and paying a king's ransom for a modern recording.  I have this feeling I'm going to hate the piece anyway.   >:(
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: knight66 on March 19, 2010, 10:52:12 PM
I can't help feeling you are making heavy weather of this. It is not a heart transplant. No doubt you are using a different site, but the Elder sells on Amazon UK for £14, the ransom for a very insignificant king.

Mike

Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: DavidRoss on March 20, 2010, 02:00:39 AM
Began listening to Barbirolli's Dream late last night but barely made it through the prelude before nodding off--not the music's fault.  I thought it lovely and plan to repeat the attempt if I survive this bout of heartburn!  (Too many jalapeños, too much salsa, and then too much ice cream.) 
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on March 20, 2010, 04:51:49 PM
I can't help feeling you are making heavy weather of this. It is not a heart transplant. No doubt you are using a different site, but the Elder sells on Amazon UK for £14, the ransom for a very insignificant king.

Mike

Ok, Barbirolli, GROC version it is. 
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: knight66 on March 20, 2010, 10:43:42 PM
Excellent, of course I can't guarantee you will enjoy the experience, but you will not be indifferent.

Mike
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: drogulus on March 21, 2010, 07:19:26 AM
Ok, Barbirolli, GROC version it is. 

      Baker get most of the attention and it's entirely justified. Yet I think Richard Lewis has impressed me the most, and he makes other singers sound like they are singing a part while he is inhabiting a personality. Actually both Baker and Lewis have the ability to sing beautifully while creating characters, to speak meaningfully and sing at the same time.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on March 21, 2010, 08:14:00 AM
Actually, it is remarkable how little Elgar I have actually heard.  I think my entire Elgar listening experience up to yesterday has been the recordings of the second symphony by Barbirolli, and the pieces on Barbirolli's "English String Music" collection (the Introduction and Allegro, and Sospiri and Elegie were added to the CD release).   The second symphony recording impressed mightily, when I heard is quite a few years ago. 

Yesterday I listened to Barbirolli's recording of the 1st symphony.  The first time through it left a blank impression, but after listening for a second time today I am starting to appreciate it more (which is a good sign).  Still, it seems that the parts that come off best are the stereotypical Elgar, the "Land of Hope and Glory-like" march theme that opens it, and the splendidly majestic restatement of it that ends the symphony.  There's also a wonderful elegiac theme in the slow movement that is first heard about 2 or 3 minutes in and parts of the Scherzo are quite striking.  But I find that what he does best is "pomp." 

I have two other recordings of the 1st symphony on the shelf, which I briefly sampled in the close of the finale, Solti/LP and Haitink/P.   My superficial impression is that Solti seems to frenetic and misses the majesty of it and Haitink lacks the "affection" that Barbirolli brings to the score.  It doesn't help that EMI gives Haitink audio engineering that seems clearly inferior to Barbirolli's, even though it was recorded in 1984 rather than 1962.  The 80's were a bad decade for EMI.   But a performance recorded in really first rate sound would be nice, given the richness and complexity of the orchestration here.  Perhaps the Andrew Davis on Teldec (I always like Teldec sound, but Andrew Davis is a bit of an unknown) or Hickox's recordings of Chandos?  Colin Davis on LSO Live?
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: DavidRoss on March 21, 2010, 08:30:42 AM
Actually, it is remarkable how little Elgar I have actually heard.  I think my entire Elgar listening experience up to yesterday has been the recordings of the second symphony by Barbirolli, and the pieces on Barbirolli's "English String Music" collection (the Introduction and Allegro, and Sospiri and Elegie were added to the CD release).   The second symphony recording impressed mightily, when I heard is quite a few years ago.
Then you are in for some treats.  Though I do not believe it is entirely successful, Elgars' Dream offers much beauty and none of the jingoism many of us find difficult to take in some of Elgar's work.

Run, don't walk, to acquaint yourself with his cello concerto--for my money the finest piece of its kind in the entire repertoire.  Barbirolli's famed recording with DuPre is the standard rec, and the CD coupled with Janet Baker's Sea Songs is terrific, though for the cto I'm partial to Tortelier/Boult.  Also worth knowing is the violin cto.  You'll not go wrong with either of Kennedy's discs, and though Hahn's new one is not to everyone's taste, it has the virtue of being coupled with an extraordinary RVW Lark Ascending.  And if you're a fan of WW5tets, he wrote a number of dandy ones recorded by the Athena Ensemble for Chandos.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on March 21, 2010, 09:20:17 AM
Run, don't walk, to acquaint yourself with his cello concerto--for my money the finest piece of its kind in the entire repertoire.  Barbirolli's famed recording with DuPre is the standard rec, and the CD coupled with Janet Baker's Sea Songs is terrific, though for the cto I'm partial to Tortelier/Boult.  Also worth knowing is the violin cto.  You'll not go wrong with either of Kennedy's discs, and though Hahn's new one is not to everyone's taste, it has the virtue of being coupled with an extraordinary RVW Lark Ascending.  And if you're a fan of WW5tets, he wrote a number of dandy ones recorded by the Athena Ensemble for Chandos.

I am lacking time rather than the discs.  I have the du Pre concerto recording, the Kennedy concerto recording with Handley as well as recordings the String Quartet, Piano Quintet, the Pomp and Circumstance Marches and the Enigma Variations.   I am a fan of woodwind quintets, but am drawn to the obtuse ones, like the Nielsen.  In samples at least, the Elgar wood wind quintets sound insufferably chipper. 
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on March 21, 2010, 09:30:50 AM
Jingoism in Elgar's music is a misunderstanding.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on March 21, 2010, 09:41:21 AM
In samples at least, the Elgar wood wind quintets sound insufferably chipper.

To be honest, Elgar's music for wood wind quintet is among his weakest output, works of a youngster learning how to compose in 1878-79. It's sympathetic Mozartian music with charm but nevertheless light years from the masterpieces Elgar produced later.

Elgar's String Quartet and Piano Quintet are very overlooked. I don't know why.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: knight66 on March 21, 2010, 11:14:37 AM
I have the 1st Sym. with Colin Davis and the LSO. The first movement with its big tune is simply too slow. Overall the timing of the movement is not out of the way, but that famous marching melody is in stasis. Apart from that there is a lot to enjoy, especially the fiery final movement, the playing of the orchestra is especially good.

Modern engineering and an excellent performance: Elder with Barbirolli's old orchestra. It is paired with the overture, 'In th South'.

Mike
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: drogulus on March 21, 2010, 11:18:55 AM
Jingoism in Elgar's music is a misunderstanding.

      Wellllllll.....not entirely. It's there in the texts. The unfortunate thing in my view is that we now have an association of the sound of Elgar with the sentiments of some of his ceremonial and nationalistic works. Whether you see this as unfair or inevitable or whatever it plainly ruins his music for some listeners. Or, to correct the balance just a bit, ruins some listeners for his music, those who are so politics-ridden that it never occurs to them to just enjoy the damn music and leave politics out for a little while. If I can prize The Dream of Gerontius above almost any Elgar save the 2nd Symphony it ought to be possible for anyone to do the same. Yet this is not the case. Politics is a harsh mistress, I guess.

     On the bright side (http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/Smileys/classic/tongue.gif), the twinning of Elgar's subjects with the sound of his music is a measure of his genius. A less gifted composer could not have invented the sound of an entire worldview as seen in retrospect, whether this sound has ruinous implications or not for Elgar's legacy with some listeners.

     This article from (http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/img/global/tol-logo.gif) discusses the imperialism issue and how it hurts the poor heads of the modern British music lover:

     The true story of Edward Elgar, the man who gave us hope and glory. (http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/music/article1825403.ece)

     Ya gotta love this:

     Elgar was an imperialist with a conviction in the unique destiny of the British Empire. But, rather like Wagner’s antiSemitism, this element of Elgar’s make-up has long been swept under the carpet by both critics and acolytes. This is misguided, since an appreciation of Elgar’s imperialism allows for a far richer understanding of his work.

      We're supposed to analogize Elgarian (uh, sorry..) national feeling to Wagnerian antisemitism. On whose say-so? Without any supporting argument, not even in passing? Then the reviewer does a neat "and yet" pirouette! First the mugging, then the even-handed appraisal. Pretty slick, eh?

     It's probably time to let the issue rest. Elgar will be back, because attitudes die out along with those who plague us with them. Then we can rearm and conquer the world, banners flying and a jingoistic song in our hearts. (http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/Smileys/classic/angel.gif)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on March 21, 2010, 11:45:28 AM
I have the 1st Sym. with Davis and the LSO. The first movement with its big tune is simply too slow. Overall the timing of the movement is not out of the way, but that famous marching melody is in stasis. Apart from that there is a lot to enjoy, especially the fiery final movement, the playing of the orchestra is especially good.

Modern engineering and an excellent performance: Elder with Barbirolli's old orchestra. It is paired with the overture, 'In th South'.

Mike

Thanks for you comments.  I am currently leaning towards this set:

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51YZESEPQ6L._SS400_.jpg)

It sounds awesome in the excerpts, and I found a marketplace seller on amazon.co.uk selling a used copy for 8 pounds, plus 3 pounds shipping.  Since the Land Of Hope and Glory's currency has slipped a bit lately, this amounts to 16 bucks for so for 5 discs.   :D :(
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: knight66 on March 21, 2010, 11:47:55 AM
Sounds like a great deal. I don't know those recordings, but Andrew Davis is usually more than a safe pair of hands.

Mike
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: DavidRoss on March 21, 2010, 01:14:34 PM
I am a fan of woodwind quintets, but am drawn to the obtuse ones, like the Nielsen.  In samples at least, the Elgar wood wind quintets sound insufferably chipper.
Nielsen's WW5tet is great and in a class with Milhaud, Ibert, Fine, Carter, and others.  Elgar's have no pretensions to greatness, but are chipper, indeed, intended for home & civic music making of the sort that once thrived (and still does, in some places) before commercial recordings made music a into a commodity for passive audiences rather than active participants.  They are delightful examples of their type.

Addendum re. the Enigma Variations:  Bernstein's with the BBC are special.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on March 22, 2010, 08:24:43 AM
Nielsen's WW5tet is great and in a class with Milhaud, Ibert, Fine, Carter, and others.
I haven't heard those of Milhaud, Ibert, Fine, Carter but Nielsen's is great! Unfortunately I don't have any recording of it. I have only heard it few times on radio and once on TV.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on March 22, 2010, 09:09:55 AM
Yes, it's true that the 2nd is a finer work. When you agree with that then you know you understand Elgar's music!

Ouch. And I thought that after 40+ years of listening to his music that I was starting to understand him. Drat!

I have no way of knowing which is the finer; I only know that I love the first with a deep passion, but can only cope with the second under certain conditions of mood; and even then I tend to lose my way. It's a much tougher ride for me. But the slow movement surely is deeply moving, and I can't relate to these comments about 'bombast' that keep coming up. I don't hear much bombast in Elgar (except in a very few obvious places) and certainly I've never heard any in the second symphony. On the contrary, my overwhelming impression is often of the struggles of a noble but wounded animal. I don't think bombast is the right word. It's more nuanced than that: words like noble, majestic, chivalric come closer, I think. There's no swagger or bluster anywhere that I can hear, in the major works. The nobility rides on the back of a vulnerability that is never very far beneath the surface. (The violin concerto presents an agonising dialogue between that nobility, and that vulnerability.)

Fancy coming back and finding all this Elgar chat that I'd missed. (I've been away in dark places not of my choosing, alas.)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on March 22, 2010, 09:19:43 AM
Elgar's String Quartet and Piano Quintet are very overlooked. I don't know why.

They're both very good pieces I think, products of the reflective late period that also produced the Cello Concerto. The Piano 5tet sounds to me like his most Brahmsian work (which is a good thing).

      Wellllllll.....not entirely. It's there in the texts. The unfortunate thing in my view is that we now have an association of the sound of Elgar with the sentiments of some of his ceremonial and nationalistic works. Whether you see this as unfair or inevitable or whatever it plainly ruins his music for some listeners.

I find this unfair. I've never met anyone who rejects Beethoven in his totality because of his Cantata on the Elevation of Leopold II to the Imperial Dignity, or Brahms because of his Triumphlied (a bombastic celebration of German unification), or Tchaikovsky because of the 1812 Overture or Marche slave. Yet somehow the nationalistic bombast that was part & parcel of European life in the 19th century sticks to Elgar more strongly than to those other composers.

Re: the Symphonies

I have to admit that I like Solti very much here - he applies the hand of discipline, and the music comes off sounding almost as coherent as a Brahms symphony. I had the A. Davis but found them too slow and lacking in vitality. I also had the Barbirolli (normally a conductor I love in British music) and found that he wallowed in the music a bit too much.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on March 22, 2010, 09:22:14 AM
Hahn's recording of the Opus 61, while certainly a pleasant enough listen, is a bit too girly and light of tread.
This is a really interesting comment that I missed on my last visit! Is it girly, or is it just feminine? The reason I ask is because I believe there's an essential 'feminine' essence at play in the violin concerto, most notably in the Windflower themes. It's for this reason that I find, say, the two Kennedy recordings unsatisfactory. Kennedy's approach is too spectacular for me, and never do I hear that delicate hint of the feminine in the right moments. Elgar never spelt out exactly whose soul was enshrined therein, but we know Alice Stuart-Wortley had a lot to do with it, and we know that Elgar was constantly torn by yearnings towards certain aspects of the feminine that he could never somehow grasp. And here in the vc he is really tackling it head-on.

From what you say, Karl, it sounds as though Ms Hahn's approach, for all that it carries some aspects of the feminine with it, doesn't seriously come to grips with the really quite profound issues that are being worked out, but it makes me curious to hear what such a girly approach might sound like..... Maybe I need to buy one and find out.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on March 22, 2010, 09:40:23 AM
Ouch. And I thought that after 40+ years of listening to his music that I was starting to understand him. Drat!

Well, your 40+ years is much more than my 12 or so.  ;) Maybe I am wrong about everything? Maybe that explains why so few agrees with me about most things?

I have no way of knowing which is the finer;  I only know that I love the first with a deep passion, but can only cope with the second under certain conditions of mood; and even then I tend to lose my way. It's a much tougher ride for me. But the slow movement surely is deeply moving,

Both of them are so great in my opinion that it doesn't make much difference which one is finer. The first has better first movement but the finale of the second is Elgar at his best. The slow movements are very equal imo. The second is more difficult for the listener but that is not to take against the music. Challenging art is good for us. 

and I can't relate to these comments about 'bombast' that keep coming up. I don't hear much bombast in Elgar (except in a very few obvious places) and certainly I've never heard any in the second symphony. On the contrary, my overwhelming impression is often of the struggles of a noble but wounded animal. I don't think bombast is the right word. It's more nuanced than that: words like noble, majestic, chivalric come closer, I think. There's no swagger or bluster anywhere that I can hear, in the major works. The nobility rides on the back of a vulnerability that is never very far beneath the surface. (The violin concerto presents an agonising dialogue between that nobility, and that vulnerability.)

Here I agree with you very much. I love the way Elgar's music sounds, bombastic or not. In Elgar's music I find every feeling and side in balance enriching each other. The is no darkness without light and vice versa. No one understood this as well as Elgar. It's wonderful how Elgar sounds strong, vulnerable, sad joyful, old and young at the same time! Elgar's music is a human life from cradle to grave made into music, not 15 minutes of someones life.

Fancy coming back and finding all this Elgar chat that I'd missed. (I've been away in dark places not of my choosing, alas.)

Welcome back!
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on March 22, 2010, 09:58:03 AM
I find this unfair. I've never met anyone who rejects Beethoven in his totality because of his Cantata on the Elevation of Leopold II to the Imperial Dignity, or Brahms because of his Triumphlied (a bombastic celebration of German unification), or Tchaikovsky because of the 1812 Overture or Marche slave. Yet somehow the nationalistic bombast that was part & parcel of European life in the 19th century sticks to Elgar more strongly than to those other composers.

You demonstrated well what I have always felt. The most "established" composers (Beethoven, Brahms etc.) are forgiven more easily than other composers. I want all composers to be treated equally. There are odd preconceptions in the world of classical music. Beethoven had to earn my respect just as much as Dittersdorf or Rosenmüller had to.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on March 22, 2010, 10:43:54 AM
I can see them clearly because I haven't been "brainwashed" in a music school.

Thank goodness we have your unimpeded brilliance in this forum, Poju.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on March 22, 2010, 10:49:31 AM
This is a really interesting comment that I missed on my last visit! Is it girly, or is it just feminine? The reason I ask is because I believe there's an essential 'feminine' essence at play in the violin concerto, most notably in the Windflower themes. It's for this reason that I find, say, the two Kennedy recordings unsatisfactory. Kennedy's approach is too spectacular for me, and never do I hear that delicate hint of the feminine in the right moments. Elgar never spelt out exactly whose soul was enshrined therein, but we know Alice Stuart-Wortley had a lot to do with it, and we know that Elgar was constantly torn by yearnings towards certain aspects of the feminine that he could never somehow grasp. And here in the vc he is really tackling it head-on.

From what you say, Karl, it sounds as though Ms Hahn's approach, for all that it carries some aspects of the feminine with it, doesn't seriously come to grips with the really quite profound issues that are being worked out, but it makes me curious to hear what such a girly approach might sound like..... Maybe I need to buy one and find out.

Welcome back, Alan!  IIRC, it was Znajder's live performance which was fresher in my ear at the time I revisited la Hahn.  It's a while since I gave the Nige a spin . . . .
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on March 22, 2010, 11:11:48 AM
I can see them clearly because I haven't been "brainwashed" in a music school.

I must say the association of Elgar with this sort of self-aggrandizing drivel is enough to put me off the composers works.    Yes, I can see your brain has never been washed.  It is like that recycling bin that David Ross said he needs to scrub out.  ::)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: DavidRoss on March 22, 2010, 11:54:24 AM
Maybe I am wrong about everything?
Bingo!

All this "talk" about Elgar suddenly has me hungering to hear what for me is unquestionably his greatest work, the cello concerto--which I also regard as the greatest work of its kind.  Together with the Barbirolli love fest that's been going on hereabouts, that means just one thing:

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41T154CG23L._SL500_AA300_.jpg)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Renfield on March 22, 2010, 12:09:28 PM
It's also alarming to see how strongly people deny brainwashing.

Don't believe authority without critical thinking.

See, that's the problem.

You are pulling a Karl Popper, and being as dogmatic about your position (quote 1) as the very dogmaticism you criticise with it (quote 2). I agree, authority is an easy way out; but if I offer that statement to you on my authority, it doesn't make much sense!


Or: if you have already decided some people are brainwashed, thus denying them the chance to defend themselves, then you are doing the same thing people do to you when they deny you the chance to defend the music you admire, by default.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: DavidRoss on March 22, 2010, 12:23:30 PM
You really think that? Beethoven's string quartets suck because I think they rule? Really?
Yes, I do.  Not only are you wrong about everything, but you are so determined not to learn anything that I've long been convinced the problem is not just faulty cognition but something organic and far beyond your control.  Neither my compassion for your condition nor my admiration for all that you've accomplished in spite of it, however, compels me to patronize you by pretending your stubborn attachment to uninformed opinions is anything other than what it clearly is.

And as I'm sure you've been told countless times before, Beethoven's string quartets are among the greatest achievements of Western civilization and your opinion affects that fact no more than it affects the tides or the phases of the moon.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on March 22, 2010, 12:46:45 PM
but you are so determined not to learn anything
What the heck are you talking about? We all learn new things every day! Nobody is determined not to learn anything.

And as I'm sure you've been told countless times before, Beethoven's string quartets are among the greatest achievements of Western civilization and your opinion affects that fact no more than it affects the tides or the phases of the moon.
Yes, but about 6 billion people don't know this. We do. We are a tiny minority but we are still right, no matter how much this population of 6 billion thinks otherwise. The point is a small minority is very easy to overlook, even ignore but the minority can still be 100 % right while all the others are wrong.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: knight66 on March 22, 2010, 12:51:15 PM
Now Alan, that bombast remark was initially mine and it was the battering about the ears that Solti dinned me with. I now have the Tate recording of the 2nd, as suggested by Sarge and all is well in the household and the Symphony has regained its rightful place here, sans bombast.

Mike
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on March 22, 2010, 12:51:40 PM
See, that's the problem.

You are pulling a Karl Popper, and being as dogmatic about your position (quote 1) as the very dogmaticism you criticise with it (quote 2). I agree, authority is an easy way out; but if I offer that statement to you on my authority, it doesn't make much sense!

Or: if you have already decided some people are brainwashed, thus denying them the chance to defend themselves, then you are doing the same thing people do to you when they deny you the chance to defend the music you admire, by default.

You are not supposed to take me as authority! You are supposed to critically evaluate what I say. Disagree or agree but be critical!
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on March 22, 2010, 01:51:39 PM
Maybe I am wrong about everything?
Possible, but unlikely. After all, I agree with quite a lot of what you say about Elgar's music, so if you're wrong about all of that then (oh horrors) so am I. I just wouldn't myself rate an understanding of Elgar on the degree of esteem felt for the second symphony.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on March 22, 2010, 03:01:57 PM
It's also alarming to see how strongly people deny brainwashing. Just compare the difference between your listening experiences and what has been taught to you in school and what you have read. Don't believe authority without critical thinking.

Somehow escapes you that it is both offensive and ridiculous to assert that anyone who fails to agree with you is "brainwashed" or has defective thought processes.   When you make statements like this, most people will react by unconditionally disregarding everything you say.   
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: eyeresist on March 22, 2010, 06:37:43 PM
Perhaps the Andrew Davis on Teldec (I always like Teldec sound, but Andrew Davis is a bit of an unknown) or Hickox's recordings of Chandos?  Colin Davis on LSO Live?
I have the Warner Apex 5-CD boxed reissue of Andrew Davis's Elgar. The two discs with the symphonies sound "woolly" to me. I find increasing the treble response makes them sound fresher, but the result is still unfortunate. The rest of the set sounds fine. Performance-wise I'd rank the set as "pretty good". I think his Music Makers is excellent, though I don't have many points of comparison.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: kishnevi on March 22, 2010, 08:21:32 PM


I find this unfair. I've never met anyone who rejects Beethoven in his totality because of his Cantata on the Elevation of Leopold II to the Imperial Dignity, or Brahms because of his Triumphlied (a bombastic celebration of German unification), or Tchaikovsky because of the 1812 Overture or Marche slave. Yet somehow the nationalistic bombast that was part & parcel of European life in the 19th century sticks to Elgar more strongly than to those other composers.


Possibly because the UK remains the UK, whereas there is no more Austro Hungarian, German, or Russian Empires.  So the Elgar contribution is part of something that continues into our time, while the others are not (at least in the formal sense--there is after all the fact that one can say that Russia remains an empire, only a different set of rulers).
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on March 23, 2010, 02:21:40 AM
Now Alan, that bombast remark was initially mine and it was the battering about the ears that Solti dinned me with. I now have the Tate recording of the 2nd, as suggested by Sarge and all is well in the household and the Symphony has regained its rightful place here, sans bombast.

Mike
Aha! That's interesting! Now I have to lay my cards on the table and admit that I have never heard so much as a whisper of Solti's Elgar. If I did, maybe my reaction would be the same as yours,  Mike, and I'd hear bombast in it for the first time!

I'm probably a bit too complacent about it all, having been drawn into Elgar very early on by Sargent, then Boult, and Barbirolli, and then not being particularly bothered about exploring widely.

I'm not convinced that I've ever heard what I'd call a bad Elgar recording, actually. Thinking in terms of both symphonies, I enjoy the Colin Davis LSO live versions with their slow, broad sweeping approach, and Slatkin, and the Andrew Davis too, even though it tends to be Boult or Barbirolli as my first choice.

The third Elgar/Payne symphony is something of a miracle, in my view. I was hugely resistive at first, but gradually it's worked its way under my skin, and by golly it just so much sounds like Elgar! The first movement in particular seems to have some of the preoccupations of the violin concerto. The way it begins, with those great swelling notes like rolling waves, almost like a warning - and then tips over into feminine delicacy with the exquisite second theme and sets up a dialogue between public and private, between masculine and feminine, between duty and longing: this is archetypal Elgar, the dialogue between inner and outer, carrying on where the violin concerto left off. Then later in the work, where he brings in the music from the Arthur suite - that's wonderfully effective, openly admitting the chivalric ideal into the argument in a way that that really does get close to the heart of the man.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: mc ukrneal on March 23, 2010, 03:42:32 AM
Aha! That's interesting! Now I have to lay my cards on the table and admit that I have never heard so much as a whisper of Solti's Elgar. If I did, maybe my reaction would be the same as yours,  Mike, and I'd hear bombast in it for the first time!

I'm probably a bit too complacent about it all, having been drawn into Elgar very early on by Sargent, then Boult, and Barbirolli, and then not being particularly bothered about exploring widely.

I'm not convinced that I've ever heard what I'd call a bad Elgar recording, actually. Thinking in terms of both symphonies, I enjoy the Colin Davis LSO live versions with their slow, broad sweeping approach, and Slatkin, and the Andrew Davis too, even though it tends to be Boult or Barbirolli as my first choice.

The third Elgar/Payne symphony is something of a miracle, in my view. I was hugely resistive at first, but gradually it's worked its way under my skin, and by golly it just so much sounds like Elgar! The first movement in particular seems to have some of the preoccupations of the violin concerto. The way it begins, with those great swelling notes like rolling waves, almost like a warning - and then tips over into feminine delicacy with the exquisite second theme and sets up a dialogue between public and private, between masculine and feminine, between duty and longing: this is archetypal Elgar, the dialogue between inner and outer, carrying on where the violin concerto left off. Then later in the work, where he brings in the music from the Arthur suite - that's wonderfully effective, openly admitting the chivalric ideal into the argument in a way that that really does get close to the heart of the man.

Which third do you like?
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on March 23, 2010, 04:31:33 AM
The third Elgar/Payne symphony is something of a miracle, in my view. I was hugely resistive at first, but gradually it's worked its way under my skin, and by golly it just so much sounds like Elgar! The first movement in particular seems to have some of the preoccupations of the violin concerto. The way it begins, with those great swelling notes like rolling waves, almost like a warning - and then tips over into feminine delicacy with the exquisite second theme and sets up a dialogue between public and private, between masculine and feminine, between duty and longing: this is archetypal Elgar, the dialogue between inner and outer, carrying on where the violin concerto left off. Then later in the work, where he brings in the music from the Arthur suite - that's wonderfully effective, openly admitting the chivalric ideal into the argument in a way that that really does get close to the heart of the man.

Most interesting, Alan, thanks.

[ —I mean, drat, my wallet does not thank you, sieur. ]
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on March 23, 2010, 07:47:29 AM
Which third do you like?

I only have two. My first choice is this one:

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/61M09H0TJ7L._SL500_AA300_.gif)

This was the first version I ever heard, and is still my favourite. For example, Daniel has an incisive, even raw approach to the great 'warning' theme of the beginning, but also when the second theme comes in, he's capable of responding to that with exquisite delicacy and tenderness. Simply marvellous, frankly.

I also have this:

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41CD1WHEE1L._SL500_AA300_.jpg)

Davis's approach is significantly different - bigger, more spacious. I might say, more 'cloudy'. I can't declare it inferior to the Bournemouth SO effort, but I do find it a little less attractive, less urgent; less nuanced in his response to the most delicately feminine bits. But heck, both discs are as cheap as chips, so why not get both, as I did?

I've toyed with getting Andrew Davis's recording which by all accounts is very fine. And I must also mention this CD:

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41APPtlTmuL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)

It seems to be still available on Amazon:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sketches-Edward-Elgar/dp/B00002687H/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1269358902&sr=1-4 (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sketches-Edward-Elgar/dp/B00002687H/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1269358902&sr=1-4)
In this CD Anthony Payne takes you step by step through his reconstruction - fascinating stuff.

Also there's an excellent book by Payne about it:

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41EEKB8F46L._SL500_AA300_.jpg)

Eminently readable even by an Elgarian of very limited musical brain like myself.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on March 23, 2010, 07:49:13 AM

[ —I mean, drat, my wallet does not thank you, sieur. ]

It will, Karl, it will. The Daniel/Bournemouth recording is superb and certainly won't impact your wallet much.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: MN Dave on March 23, 2010, 07:52:24 AM
Whenever I see this thread, I think "Elgar's Backside".  ;D
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on March 23, 2010, 07:53:43 AM
Whenever I see this thread, I think "Elgar's Backside".  ;D

Cheers, Dave .... or rather, 'Bottom's up!'
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on March 23, 2010, 07:58:09 AM
Aha! That's interesting! Now I have to lay my cards on the table and admit that I have never heard so much as a whisper of Solti's Elgar. If I did, maybe my reaction would be the same as yours,  Mike, and I'd hear bombast in it for the first time!

After listening to Barbirolli's 1 over the last few days, I listened to the first movement of Solti's recording.  The tempo is a lot brisker, he gets on with it more quickly, but there is a lack of affection.  I agree with Elgerian that the essence of Elgar is nobility tinged with sadness or regret and Solti seems to make less room for the tinge.  The definition of bombast is language which is padded with grandiose rhetoric, which might be consistent with the impression obtained from Solti's performance.

But to be honest, I am still not comfortable with the entirety of Elgar's first symphony.  The most convincing part is the opening, and the return of the opening theme at the very end in grandiose but autumnal orchestration.  There is also an arrestingly beautiful theme that appears a few minutes into the slow movement.  But the bulk of the first movement and finale fail to make a distinct impression on me, as yet.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on March 23, 2010, 08:13:15 AM
It will, Karl, it will. The Daniel/Bournemouth recording is superb and certainly won't impact your wallet much.

Well, you're right there, Alan . . . a Naxos release does not bite deep into the budget.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Sergeant Rock on March 23, 2010, 08:52:02 AM
After listening to Barbirolli's 1 over the last few days, I listened to the first movement of Solti's recording.  The tempo is a lot brisker, he gets on with it more quickly, but there is a lack of affection.  I agree with Elgerian that the essence of Elgar is nobility tinged with sadness or regret and Solti seems to make less room for the tinge.  The definition of bombast is language which is padded with grandiose rhetoric, which might be consistent with the impression obtained from Solti's performance.

I'm listening to Barbirolli's First also...and doing some quick comparisons with my other versions. Interesting to note that Boult's First, which I usually consider my favorite along with Previn (a really glorious account that all Elgarians should hear) is actually a few seconds faster, overall, than Solti. I just can't describe Solti's as bombastic. That's not the way I hear it. But then we all have very individual ears  ;)


Timings for Elgar Symphony #1

                           I         II         III        IV
Sinopoli          20:41   7:10    14:10   13:27 (55:28)

Davis (LSO)    21:00   7:52   12:47    12:45 (54:47)

Tate               20:39   7:10   14:16   12:22  (54:27)

Barbirolli         21:39   7:03   12:15   12:46  (53:43)

Previn            19:26   6:52   12:58   12:27  (51:43)

Solti               17:45   7:08   12:12   11:38  (48:43)

Boult (EMI)    18:33   7:14    10:53   12:01  (48:41)


Sarge




Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: DavidRoss on March 23, 2010, 09:03:34 AM
Cheers, Dave .... or rather, 'Bottom's up!'
Hah!  ;D

I agree with Elgerian that the essence of Elgar is nobility tinged with sadness or regret
I agree with this, too...or at least agree that this is the essence of the Elgar that I find appealing.

"One cannot be deeply responsive to the world without being saddened very often." ~Erich Fromm

Interesting to note that Boult's First, which I usually consider my favorite along with Previn (a really glorious account that all Elgarians should hear)
Previn's is my keeper, Sarge.  8)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Sergeant Rock on March 23, 2010, 09:10:37 AM
Previn's is my keeper, Sarge.  8)

It's perfect...like his Walton 1. Definitely goes to the desert island.

Sarge
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on March 23, 2010, 09:35:07 AM
Well, I didn't find the Elgar Third Naxos rec at either Borders or F.Y.E. . . . and anyway, I ought to sit down and listen to my Tate recording of the First & Second, firstly! ; )
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on March 23, 2010, 09:50:40 AM
But to be honest, I am still not comfortable with the entirety of Elgar's first symphony.  The most convincing part is the opening, and the return of the opening theme at the very end in grandiose but autumnal orchestration.  There is also an arrestingly beautiful theme that appears a few minutes into the slow movement.  But the bulk of the first movement and finale fail to make a distinct impression on me, as yet.

How about the section in the last movement that begins about 4 minutes in with a march-like theme - dom dom dom diddle dom dom doo dah - which builds and builds, with strings swirling threateningly around and around, like an invading army circling around a hilltop, ever more dangerous .... until dark notes from the basses make us pause, and then suddenly, miraculously,  around 6m30s, that same theme swells upwards on the strings, transformed almost beyond recognition from military threat to some kind of reconciliation or ultimate spiritual redemption, almost, but not quite, completing itself after about 8 minutes. The re-emergence of that theme, there, dressed in completely new clothes, is one of the greatest moments in all Elgar, for me. And when after that the march theme appears again, transformed in our perceptions because we've just been shown what it can be transformed into, it does so only to herald the magnificent return of the original theme, that fantastic tune, from the first movement - and I know that once you arrive at that point, you're OK.

But try starting 4 minutes into the final movement, where the march begins, and listen to that entire closing 9 minutes as a whole. Once you get that, try going back and listening to the whole movement again, where all this is presented mixed up together and stirred like some kind of primeval soup - the outcome merely hinted at but not guaranteed, until order begins to emerge (around 4 mins).

[Timings based on Colin Davis LSO Live.]
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on March 23, 2010, 10:00:18 AM
How about the section in the last movement that begins about 4 minutes in with a march-like theme - dom dom dom diddle dom dom doo dah - which builds and builds, with strings swirling threateningly around and around, like an invading army circling around a hilltop, ever more dangerous .... until dark notes from the basses make us pause, and then suddenly, miraculously,  around 6m30s, that same theme swells upwards on the strings, transformed almost beyond recognition from military threat to some kind of reconciliation or ultimate spiritual redemption, almost, but not quite, completing itself after about 8 minutes. The re-emergence of that theme, there, dressed in completely new clothes, is one of the greatest moments in all Elgar, for me. And when after that the march theme appears again, transformed in our perceptions because we've just been shown what it can be transformed into, it does so only to herald the magnificent return of the original theme, that fantastic tune, from the first movement - and I know that once you arrive at that point, you're OK.

But try starting 4 minutes into the final movement, where the march begins, and listen to that entire closing 9 minutes as a whole. Once you get that, try going back and listening to the whole movement again, where all this is presented mixed up together and stirred like some kind of primeval soup - the outcome merely hinted at but not guaranteed, until order begins to emerge (around 4 mins).

[Timings based on Colin Davis LSO Live.]

Yes, these are the sorts of things I am missing.  I think the opulence of Elgar's orchestration sometimes obscures such thematic developments.  I am expecting delivery of several Elgar recordings and I will spin the 1st symphony with your notes in mind.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on March 23, 2010, 10:55:11 AM
I want to apologize what I wrote yesterday. I take my statement about brainwashing back. I removed some of my messages. I forgot to be polite, sorry.

Which third do you like?
I have Andrew Davis on NMC (also the commentary CD) and Paul Daniel on Naxos. I find these performances equally good. Andrew Davis does the second movement "Scherzo: Allegretto" fantastically but Paul Daniel does a more clean and smooth overall job.

I like this elaboration very much, almost as much as the first and second.  0:)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: mc ukrneal on March 23, 2010, 12:36:26 PM
Well, I didn't find the Elgar Third Naxos rec at either Borders or F.Y.E. . . . and anyway, I ought to sit down and listen to my Tate recording of the First & Second, firstly! ; )
And secondly!  :)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: knight66 on March 23, 2010, 12:52:58 PM
This discussion has prompted me to give the 3rd another try. I have not cracked it yet.

Mike
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on March 23, 2010, 01:23:02 PM
I am expecting delivery of several Elgar recordings and I will spin the 1st symphony with your notes in mind.

I betcha a million pounds that if you listen to those last 9 minutes (possibly twice over) with that core structure at the back of your mind, you'll make a breakthrough.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: knight66 on March 23, 2010, 02:13:17 PM
I have given the third another try. I have Andrew Davis BBC SO version. For anyone interested in acquiring a version: the notes with this recording are fascinating. There is both an extended piece by Colin Matthews discussing the morality of completing such unfinished pieces, then an essay by Anthony Payne.

This was the premier recording and appropriate; as the commission to Elgar and the eventual commission to Payne came from the BBC.

I have not been able to get to grips with it, though I had not really tried hard. This time round, the first movement felt like an old friend, mind you one with plenty of life in him. The middle two movements continue to be rather indistinct fog for me and the final movement fell between these two extremes.

I should think a further three times through and I will feel a lot more comfortable. I do believe it is well worth persevering, there is some beautiful and stirring music in it.

Mike
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on March 23, 2010, 03:45:38 PM
I want to apologize what I wrote yesterday. I take my statement about brainwashing back. I removed some of my messages. I forgot to be polite, sorry.

Thank you for your courtesy.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: (poco) Sforzando on March 23, 2010, 07:33:36 PM
Whenever I see this thread, I think "Elgar's Backside".  ;D

That's really very funny.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on March 23, 2010, 08:09:10 PM
I betcha a million pounds that if you listen to those last 9 minutes (possibly twice over) with that core structure at the back of your mind, you'll make a breakthrough.

I did listen to the remainder of Solti's recording of this piece and I see what you mean.  Perhaps my problem with this music is that if I don't pay attention it starts to sound like a Pomp and Circumstance March and trio.   The Nobilmente is Elgar's basic idiom and I have to pay attention to how he is modulating it in these works.

But in the end, Solti is not the conductor I want to be listening to in this music.  The finale is rushed, to my ears, and a lot more could be made of the third movment.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on March 24, 2010, 03:08:38 AM
Perhaps my problem with this music is that if I don't pay attention it starts to sound like a Pomp and Circumstance March and trio.   The Nobilmente is Elgar's basic idiom and I have to pay attention to how he is modulating it in these works.

I have to pay attention too while listening to Elgar. This is not a problem at all since no other music makes me pay attention like Elgar does. I find it very captivating.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on March 24, 2010, 08:35:40 AM
I did listen to the remainder of Solti's recording of this piece and I see what you mean.  Perhaps my problem with this music is that if I don't pay attention it starts to sound like a Pomp and Circumstance March and trio.   The Nobilmente is Elgar's basic idiom and I have to pay attention to how he is modulating it in these works.

But in the end, Solti is not the conductor I want to be listening to in this music.
I don't know Solti's Elgar, and from Mike's comments earlier (and yours) I don't think I want to. It sounds as if he's conducting some kind of caricature, rather than an interpretation as I'd understand it.

The Nobilmente is, yes, certainly Elgar's idiom: but it represents a chivalric and noble ideal, not a self-aggrandising achievement. It's something to be aimed for, concerned with justice, freedom, and brotherhood - not something smug, to be swanked about. Elgar's Imperialism is hugely misunderstood - and this is partly because he was unwise  enough to set a few pieces of music to some ill-chosen words written by others. If one plucks those out in isolation (like the finale to Caractacus, for instance), then of course one can make a case for something rather tasteless if one ignores everything else. But I don't believe there is even a whisper of anything approaching jingoism in the first symphony.

That transformation I spoke of - where the militaristic march is transformed into a heart-lifting, visionary melody from Heaven, which in turn is allowed to lead into the wonderful tune from the first movement, tells the whole story. A celebration of Englishness, yes - but an Englishness based on a love of the land and the chivalric ideal, and the optimistic hope for transformation. After all, Elgar himself said that the symphony had no programme "beyond a wide experience of human life with a great charity and a massive hope in the future". I think that's bang on.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on March 24, 2010, 08:45:52 AM
This time round, the first movement felt like an old friend, mind you one with plenty of life in him.

Do you see what I mean, Mike, about the contrast between the masculine, 'warning' character of the first theme, and the gentle comforting femininity of the second theme? (By all accounts he'd become infatuated by a young lady called Vera Hockman when he was composing this, and she effectively became the muse that inspired the feminine half of that wonderful musical dialogue in the 1st movement.)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on March 24, 2010, 08:50:13 AM
The Nobilmente is, yes, certainly Elgar's idiom: but it represents a chivalric and noble ideal, not a self-aggrandising achievement. It's something to be aimed for, concerned with justice, freedom, and brotherhood . . . .

Yes, a humane trait, and not any chauvinistic matter.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on March 26, 2010, 07:42:20 AM
I think I am starting to "get" Elgar's first, Elgerian's description was a big help.  Another key was listening to Solti, which stripped the symphony of every worthwhile attribute, then returning to Barbirolli, whose reading is a masterpiece.   :D

Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: knight66 on March 26, 2010, 08:06:03 AM
Glad to read it. It sounds like Solti did much the same in the First for you as he did for me in the Second.

Mike
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on March 26, 2010, 08:09:05 AM
Now a question, should I consider Boult's recordings essential in this music?

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51ocGdYErRL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: mc ukrneal on March 26, 2010, 11:21:39 AM
Now a question, should I consider Boult's recordings essential in this music?

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51ocGdYErRL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)

Boult is fantastic in this music. He has all the 'nobleness' you could want. I particularly like symphony #2.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on March 26, 2010, 12:42:48 PM
If it were The Elgar Interpreters' last stand, and the arrows were flying thick and fast, it would be Boult and Barbirolli that I would hope were the last two standing.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on March 27, 2010, 10:05:22 AM
This one came in the mail today and I briefly sampled the ending.

(http://www.mdt.co.uk/public/pictures/products/standard/CD80310.jpg)

Really splendid.  I can't say that Zinman is doing anything particularly brilliant with it, but they are playing it properly and the Telarc sound is clear, full bodied and beautifully imaged, making it possible to the details of orchestration with excellent clarity.  To bad we can't transport their recording rig back in time to 1962 and use it to record Barbirolli's performance.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on April 10, 2010, 08:39:21 AM
The Andrew Davis 5CD set finally arrived, very lavish with extensive notes on all of the works included.  I listened to the Symphony No. 1.  Generally splendid, taken in a relaxed tempo with a feel not unlike Barbirolli's, but without the limitations of 1963 audio engineering.  I was a little bit disappointed to see that the recordings were done by Tony Faulkner (the guy who does most orchestral recordings for Hyperion) rather than Teldec's own engineering team.  But the results are good, perhaps a little bright for my taste, but not bad at all. 

Note added:
Having listened to the recording a second part, I would say it has many beautiful moments, particularly the passage which Elgarian described so eloquently, in which the vigorous theme introduced in the finale is transformed into a gentle, celestial theme in the middle of the movement.  That gentle passage is pulled off better in this recording than in any of the others I've been listening to, including Barbirolli.  Overall, I'd say Andrew Davis' approach is very similar to Barbirolli's, and only suffers from a flagging of momentum in a few of the more vigorous passages.  Splendid


Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: drogulus on April 16, 2010, 01:48:41 PM
If it were The Elgar Interpreters' last stand, and the arrows were flying thick and fast, it would be Boult and Barbirolli that I would hope were the last two standing.

     The only conductor I can think of that interprets Elgar as well, or perhaps better, is Elgar.

     In an earlier post I compared performances of the Prelude to The Kingdom by Hickox and Boult. I believe that most lovers of Elgar would agree that Boult has a more nuanced understanding of this music.

     Prelude (Hickox) (http://www.fileden.com/files/2007/11/2/1559968/Prelude%20%28Hickox%29.mp3)

     Prelude (Boult) (http://www.fileden.com/files/2007/11/2/1559968/Prelude%20%28Boult%29.mp3)

     And here is Elgar:

     http://www.youtube.com/watch/v/VVU9CXPq-oo

     It's true, Elgar was a terrific conductor of his own music based on this. You can see, though, from a comparison of these 3 that Boult is right up there. There is a transition that particularly shows what this sensitivity to a composer's intentions can mean. It's at 6:13 in Elgar, 5:46 in Boult, 6:44 in Hickox. It's a small thing that makes a big difference.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: eyeresist on April 18, 2010, 08:50:39 PM
Whenever I see this thread, I think "Elgar's Backside".  ;D

Then there's that thread, "The Incredible Water Pistol".
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on April 19, 2010, 03:41:41 AM
Then there's that thread, "The Incredible Water Pistol".

Hah!
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: DavidRoss on April 19, 2010, 03:46:43 AM
(http://saysomethingfunny.files.wordpress.com/2009/09/super-soaker-50.jpg)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Sergeant Rock on April 19, 2010, 03:50:12 AM
(http://saysomethingfunny.files.wordpress.com/2009/09/super-soaker-50.jpg)

Is that a water pistol or a sex toy?

Sarge
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: eyeresist on April 19, 2010, 05:40:12 PM
No, I think it's used for, er, after....
 
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: DavidRoss on April 19, 2010, 06:16:41 PM
Hmmm...are you suggesting it be filled with vinegar?
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on April 24, 2010, 09:27:07 PM
I'm afraid I'm in trouble again.  Listened to the violin concerto through twice (Kennedy/Rattle).  I just don't get it.  Such a beautiful opening, such a haunting theme, such wonderful harmonies, such a wonderful Straussian flourish from the horns.  Then the solo violin enters.  After stating the opening motif, to many notes.  Too, too many notes.  Incessant running up and down the finger board, to what effect?  What is Elgar trying to tell us?  The only message flashing through my brain is, "please make it stop!"  I'm evidently missing something here.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: knight66 on April 24, 2010, 10:03:32 PM
Perhaps you are not 'missing' it, but simply don't like it. I don't want to suggest you sound like.......

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dCud8H7z7vU

But I don't have the same problems with the piece, sounds fine to me.

Mike
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on April 24, 2010, 10:33:45 PM
Perhaps you are not 'missing' it, but simply don't like it. I don't want to suggest you sound like.......

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dCud8H7z7vU

But I don't have the same problems with the piece, sounds fine to me.

Mike

Yes, I am quite familiar with the scene.  Elgar is not Mozart.   :D   However, probably I should take your advice and give up on the piece.  Life is too short.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: knight66 on April 24, 2010, 10:38:44 PM
Yes, it was not a dig at you, but your comments brought that scene to mind and I could not then resist the link.

Mike

Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on April 25, 2010, 12:27:14 AM
I just don't get it.

Sorry about that.

Such a beautiful opening, such a haunting theme, such wonderful harmonies, such a wonderful Straussian flourish from the horns.

No problems getting it so far...

Then the solo violin enters.  After stating the opening motif, to many notes.  Too, too many notes.

What is too many? 16? 27? 165? I don't calculate notes, I simply enjoy the music.

Incessant running up and down the finger board, to what effect?  What is Elgar trying to tell us?

Elgar tells us that life is not optimized. It's full of repetition and redundancy and we better accept it. Struggle is part of life and often things take time.

The only message flashing through my brain is, "please make it stop!"  I'm evidently missing something here.

I feel very differently. I find that part of the work very beautiful, relaxing and comforting. Why would I want that that to stop? I NEED those things.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: DavidRoss on April 25, 2010, 04:54:06 AM
Thanks for the reminder that it's been too long since I last heard Kennedy/Rattle/CBSO's record of Elgar's VC.  Not too many notes, I think, just the number he required, no more, no less.  ;) 

Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on April 25, 2010, 05:43:03 AM
There, we've localized your problem, Scarps: Don't calculate notes, simply enjoy the music.

Thanks for the reminder that it's been too long since I last heard Kennedy/Rattle/CBSO's record of Elgar's VC.  Not too many notes, I think, just the number he required, no more, no less.  ;) 

Got that one loaded onto the player!
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on April 25, 2010, 08:13:32 AM
There, we've localized your problem, Scarps: Don't calculate notes, simply enjoy the music.

If I was enjoying the music I wouldn't be counting the notes (and there are seven hundred fourteen thousand two hundred sixty seven, by my count). 

Maybe Kennedy's overwrought tone, combined with strident EMI engineering is what's bothering me (the only two recordings I have are his two recordings).  There is a definite finger nails on the chalkboard effect.  Some contrast is needed before dismissing this piece.  The recent recording by the ice maiden is on order.  Maybe the ice-water in the veins approach will work better for me in this piece.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: mc ukrneal on April 25, 2010, 08:35:43 AM
If I was enjoying the music I wouldn't be counting the notes (and there are seven hundred fourteen thousand two hundred sixty seven, by my count). 

Maybe Kennedy's overwrought tone, combined with strident EMI engineering is what's bothering me (the only two recordings I have are his two recordings).  There is a definite finger nails on the chalkboard effect.  Some contrast is needed before dismissing this piece.  The recent recording by the ice maiden is on order.  Maybe the ice-water in the veins approach will work better for me in this piece.

Kennedy makes me want to poke my eyes out, even in this piece where most people love him. I would try a different approach before deciding you don't like the piece - as it really is wonderful. Maybe come back to it later...
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on April 25, 2010, 12:04:14 PM
I'm afraid I'm in trouble again.  Listened to the violin concerto through twice (Kennedy/Rattle).  I just don't get it.  Such a beautiful opening, such a haunting theme, such wonderful harmonies, such a wonderful Straussian flourish from the horns.  Then the solo violin enters.  After stating the opening motif, to many notes.  Too, too many notes.  Incessant running up and down the finger board, to what effect?  What is Elgar trying to tell us?  The only message flashing through my brain is, "please make it stop!"  I'm evidently missing something here.
Elgar's violin concerto has haunted me for most of my post-adolescent life, and it took me many years to get to grips with it. I think it's true to say that a little knowledge of certain aspects of Elgar's life makes it more accessible, more poignant, though I wouldn't suggest it was actually necessary. Some may think it's too long, at 45-50 minutes, but the extra length is due almost entirely to the extraordinary cadenza with which he closes the work.

Someone once remarked that one of the signs of Shakespeare's greatness was his ability to 'connect public and private' worlds so successfully, and I think it's possible to say the same thing about much of Elgar's greatest music - most particularly the violin concerto, where there's a whole spectrum of musical discourse ranging from the public, at one end (Elgar's 'nobilmente' is one aspect of it) to the intensely, intimately private (such as the second windflower theme), at the other. One way (I don't say the only way) of looking at the entire concerto might be as an exploration of this connection between the public and the private. There's the face of Elgar the public man - the one that he presents to the world; the one that stands for his country and his time. And there is the inner heart of Elgar; the insecure, deeply troubled, aching, longing individual mind. Because we all have our own equivalents of these components, the violin concerto has the capability of tearing us to pieces once we tune in properly to it.

The key to the heart of the first movement is the recognition of the two 'Windflower' themes (see my avatar). That these themes, different in character but both deeply feminine, had some symbolic significance for Elgar is unquestionable; trying to discover what it is, is another matter. Perhaps it can't be expressed in words. Elgar wrote on the score: 'Herein is enshrined the soul of .....' but he didn't tell us who '.....' is. Lady Alice Stuart Wortley, Elgar's soulmate and muse for many years, is often proposed as the most likely candidates for the 'soul' - Elgar's nickname for her was 'Windflower' - but I don't believe it's so simple. A heart-rending drama is played out, again and again, between the two 'Windflower' themes, initially in the first movement, and later, most devastatingly, in the extraordinary 10-minute cadenza in the final movement. The second movement is exquisitely beautiful, and would alone make the piece a favourite for me, but the reason why I go back to this concerto, time and time again, is this great drama of the two 'windflower' themes.

Whoever or whatever is the 'soul' enshrined here, nowhere is it enshrined more mysteriously than in the cadenza. About 9 minutes into the last movement, Elgar starts to wind things up. We sense that the finale is coming; we get ready for the end. But no. The release we're expecting doesn't happen. The momentum fades. Unexpectedly from the strings there comes the thrumming sound of something like wind - wind in trees, perhaps, or aeolian harps. It's a strange, haunting sound, and against this background the cadenza (it's an accompanied cadenza) begins. For the next 10 minutes or so the violin takes up again the 'windflower' themes that were such a key factor in the first movement, and explores them as if they represent something remembered that's exquisitely painful, yet loved beyond measure. Elgar has some unfinished business to resolve.

In the cadenza the two windflower themes seem to repeatedly lose each other, then find each other (fleetingly), then lose each other again. There are times when the music falters and almost dies, as if all momentum, all reason for continuing, has been lost - as if no resolution is possible. Elgar seems to strip his soul bare in this cadenza, and yet, finally, some kind of reconciliation is achieved. The darkly beautiful struggle is brought to an end; the window on Elgar's soul is closed, within just a few bars; and we're left once more with the public, optimistic face, with a curious feeling of uneasy acceptance of the insecurities to which we've just been made privy. And the concerto comes to an end in a brisk surge of something like optimism.

The power of it lies in the fact that it somehow seems to tap into something archetypal; something deeper than the mere fact that Elgar was in love with anyone in particular. Elgar is exposing normally hidden aspects of his longing for the feminine, expressed through his love-but-not-quite-love for Alice Stuart-Wortley. If you were to put a gun to my head and demand an explanation, I'd say I think the music conveys a kind of celebration of the feminine, as a healing essence, tempered by an awareness of its destructive, painful aspect. Because of the archetypal character of the struggle, we can all find aspects of ourselves in there: the tension between the need to perform publicly in the world, in the face of private turmoil, for instance; or the circular paradox of our perceptions of the feminine aspect as lover and mother (Persephone and Demeter).


Both of the Kennedy versions are generally regarded very highly, and of course he plays it brilliantly; but as far as I'm concerned it needs more than brilliance. This concerto isn't about virtuoso fireworks. I don't think Kennedy really gets to the heart-wrending poignant core of the music. Everything hangs on the bitter-sweet desperate interchange between the windflower themes - that is, on Elgar's yearning for some kind of archetypal feminine presence - and for me, Kennedy doesn't quite get that. I don't say it's the best (I wouldn't know how to judge that), but the version I return to again and again is Hugh Bean's, with Charles Groves and the RLPO.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on April 25, 2010, 12:50:14 PM
Have you given the Hahn recording a spin yet, Alan?
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on April 25, 2010, 01:24:45 PM
Have you given the Hahn recording a spin yet, Alan?

Yes.  It is the ice maiden I've pinned my hopes on!   :D
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on April 25, 2010, 01:37:58 PM
Well, I've gone on record as considering the Hahn too girly for the piece . . . so I've wondered what relation that may have to Alan's reading of necessary femininity.

But I think her 'voice' is just a little weak for the piece (at least in that recording).
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: DavidRoss on April 25, 2010, 01:54:16 PM
Hahn?  The Ice Maiden?  Have I crossed into an alternate universe?
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on April 25, 2010, 02:38:36 PM
Hahn?  The Ice Maiden?  Have I crossed into an alternate universe?

An impression formed after hearing her recording of the Bach violin concerti (if I recall correctly).  Sounded like a midi sound file to me.  I could be way off base.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Lethevich on April 25, 2010, 03:40:16 PM
A heretical thought, Elgarian, but are you aware of a recording of the concerto which goes with Elgar's first thoughts, without the cadenza?
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on April 25, 2010, 05:21:02 PM
An impression formed after hearing her recording of the Bach violin concerti (if I recall correctly).  Sounded like a midi sound file to me.  I could be way off base.

Depends on one's expectations.  If one is fond of the Romantified Bach (once the only lens through which Bach was viewed), e.g., a variety of attempts to "get back" are going to seem less "vivid" in some ways.
 
A heretical thought, Elgarian, but are you aware of a recording of the concerto which goes with Elgar's first thoughts, without the cadenza?

You know I'm waiting for more, Sara! ; )
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on April 25, 2010, 06:24:26 PM
Depends on one's expectations.  If one is fond of the Romantified Bach (once the only lens through which Bach was viewed), e.g., a variety of attempts to "get back" are going to seem less "vivid" in some ways.

About 98% of my Bach recordings are HIP, so I am not accustomed to Romanticized Bach.  But according to the school of HIP religion I subscribe to (the Harnoncourt variety) the Baroque scores assumed that the performer would take certain liberties.  Hahn played with (according to the memory of my impression) absolute rigidity and uniformity of perfect articulation.  Like a perfect machine.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: kishnevi on April 25, 2010, 06:30:45 PM
Kennedy makes me want to poke my eyes out, even in this piece where most people love him. I would try a different approach before deciding you don't like the piece - as it really is wonderful. Maybe come back to it later...

I don't have Kennedy's Elgar.  Come to think of it, I don't have Kennedy's anybody :)

But I do have for the Elgar VC Gil Shaham with Zinman conducting the CSO (on Canary Classics), and like that well enough that I'm no hurry to look up an alternative.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on April 25, 2010, 06:44:29 PM
About 98% of my Bach recordings are HIP, so I am not accustomed to Romanticized Bach.  But according to the school of HIP religion I subscribe to (the Harnoncourt variety) the Baroque scores assumed that the performer would take certain liberties.  Hahn played with (according to the memory of my impression) absolute rigidity and uniformity of perfect articulation.  Like a perfect machine.

Mine was but one example, and I did not necessarily impute it as pertaining to you.

BTW, it is a commonplace to derogate a performer whose style one does not respond positively to, as mechanical.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on April 25, 2010, 06:47:36 PM
But I do have for the Elgar VC Gil Shaham with Zinman conducting the CSO (on Canary Classics), and like that well enough that I'm no hurry to look up an alternative.

In my ears, Shaham suffers from (what is to him in any events a bonus) the fact that a half dozen of his recordings are (or were) staples on WCRB.  Unfortunately (and one understands that even a fine artist is not always at his best) these recordings struck me as a violinist who was phoning it in.

That overall impression lingers, even though I have in the interim heard Shaham play live. (It was a good, but not a great performance.)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on April 25, 2010, 07:43:29 PM
BTW, it is a commonplace to derogate a performer whose style one does not respond positively to, as mechanical.[/font]

I don't find it commonplace at all.  I don't think Kennedy is mechanical at all, for instance. He is overwrought and self-indulgent, in my impression.   In any case, I have a few Hahn recordings on the pile that I have not gotten around to yet, but not Bach.   (Excerpts of her recent recording of obbligato violin parts in Bach soprano arias left me equally cold.)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on April 25, 2010, 08:33:37 PM
I don't think Kennedy is mechanical at all, for instance.

Reverse fallacy. (Just saying.)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on April 25, 2010, 08:35:11 PM
Fair disclosure: I haven't yet heard a Hahn recording to impress, so my part in the discourse is not a 'defense' of La Hahn.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on April 25, 2010, 10:54:50 PM
Have you given the Hahn recording a spin yet, Alan?
No I haven't, Karl - too strapped for cash at the moment to get more than a small fraction of what's caught my eye. And also there's now competition from the new version by Zehetmair, with Mark Elder and the Halle (though for different reasons).
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on April 25, 2010, 11:25:48 PM
A heretical thought, Elgarian, but are you aware of a recording of the concerto which goes with Elgar's first thoughts, without the cadenza?
Not sure if you're saying that such a recording exists, and asking have I heard it (no - I haven't), or if you're asking if such a thing exists (I don't know.)

I think I'd be surprised to learn if such a 'first thoughts' score existed (if it did, Elgar clearly wasn't satisfied with it). My understanding is that the cadenza wasn't tagged on as an afterthought, but something that developed naturally as he worked on the finale. At the time he was working on it, he described it in a note to a friend as 'the solo violin thinking over the first movement' - presumably as he himself was doing. He seems to have worked out a lot of it with the help of Billy Reed (Leader of the LSO), who came round to play it through with him - Reed writes: 'Passages were tried in different ways: the notes were regrouped or the phrasing altered. The Cadenza was in pieces; but soon the parts took shape and were knit together to become an integral part of the concerto.' Obviously they were working specifically on the cadenza on the occasion described in that anecdote, but I'm not aware that there was ever a time when anything like a self-contained version of the last movement existed without the cadenza.

So please tell me more, if there's more to tell.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Lethevich on April 26, 2010, 01:50:37 AM
Oh, non - it was wishful thinking, as it felt as though the cadenza may have been added after other copies were made if not published. It intrigues me because, as you implied in your wonderful earlier posts on the piece, it would give it an entirely different mood - tighter, more self-consciously ticking the correct boxes for the template. I don't know why, but I have something like Dvorak's VC in mind as something it could be like with a textbook energetic finale, but with the cadenza I can't mentally tie the movement (or the entire piece) together in my head. I guess I have no imagination :P
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on April 26, 2010, 05:15:29 AM
Oh, non - it was wishful thinking, as it felt as though the cadenza may have been added after other copies were made if not published.
Ah, right, I understand. I think I can clear that up with a few dates. Billy Reed first went to visit on 28 May 1910, and 'found E. striding about with a lot of loose sheets of music paper, arranging them in different parts of the room. Some were already pinned on the backs of chairs, or stuck up on the mantlepiece ready for me to play. ... we started work without losing a moment. What we played was a sketchy version of the Violin Concerto. He had got the main ideas written out, and, as he put it 'japed them up' to make a coherent piece.'

Nothing had been published at that stage, though it's doubtful whether the cadenza existed in anything but the sketchiest form, if at all. Elgar sent the violin and piano score of the first movement to the publisher on 1 June - there was no orchestration at that stage.

Reed then recalls going again on 12 June when 'the slow movement and the first movement of the concerto were almost finished; and the Coda was ready.' And on 30 June he was with Elgar sorting out the Cadenza (the passage I quoted in my previous post).

So this was all coming thick and fast, and the whole thing coming together through the month of June. Certainly there was no published 'early cadenza-less version'. If there was ever a cadenza-less version of any sort, it could only have existed for a few days, on multiple scraps of paper.
 
Quote
with the cadenza I can't mentally tie the movement (or the entire piece) together in my head. I guess I have no imagination :P
I don't think your imagination is in question! I just think it's a very idiosyncratic piece of music, and enormously worth persisting with. For years I thought it was just too darned long, but then I hadn't recognised the crucial importance of the cadenza, myself. Let's suppose he'd cut it out. So instead, when he starts to close down the shop about 9 minutes into the last movement, suppose he actually had chosen to close it down then and there, with a nice optimistic quasi-blustery ending, rather as it does, in fact, end. Well, we'd have a nice half-hour long concerto, packed with great tunes, with a meltingly lovely slow movement, and a feel-good ending to boot. And very nice too.

The fact that he could have done that so easily, but didn't, is a testament to his integrity I think. When the music pauses after those first 9 minutes and doesn't go on to the rousing finale, but instead dives down with the remembered windflower tunes into the pit of the cadenza, he's deciding not to pretend that he's sorted it all out. It's like writing an autobiography and deciding NOT to go for the pat, upbeat ending, but to face up to some pretty serious stuff instead. So then, when he does at last reach the (somewhat) upbeat ending, he does so after having faced things down squarely, and able to recognise that the upbeat stuff is really pretty fragile. Perhaps a bit of a bluff, even.

But look, this is just my personal reading of it. I've listened to it so many times down the years that I'm probably just stuck in my own groove. All I can say is that as the years go by, I find more and more to unravel, it gets more and more beautiful and moving as its musical symbolism seems to penetrate deeper into the human condition; and my perception of its giant stature steadily increases.

Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: eyeresist on April 26, 2010, 09:39:32 PM
Elgar tells us that life is not optimized. It's full of repetition and redundancy and we better accept it.

That's an ... interesting way of defending Elgar! Makes him sound more like Philip Glass.
 
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on April 27, 2010, 04:33:54 AM
Quote from: Poju
Elgar tells us that life is not optimized. It's full of repetition and redundancy and we better accept it.

It's all right that life is like that.

If art is too much like that, gawd it's teejus.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Sergeant Rock on April 27, 2010, 06:45:07 AM
An impression formed after hearing her recording of the Bach violin concerti (if I recall correctly).  Sounded like a midi sound file to me.  I could be way off base.

I don't like Hahn's Bach either. It sounds mechanical to me too, with tempos tending to be way too fast.

Kennedy...is overwrought and self-indulgent, in my impression.

Then you will probably prefer Hahn. Compared to Kennedy she is cooler (although no ice maiden either). The requisite emotions are there, not short-changed...at least that's the way I hear her. I do love what she and Davis do with the work but I seem to be a minority...me and the Hurwitzer  ;D

Edit: Looking at some Elgar VC reviews in Gramophone (boy, the Brits really hate Hahn's Elgar :D ), I read a rave about the James Ehnes performance, Andrew Davis conducting on the Onyx label. Ordered it. Has anyone heard it? 

Sarge
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: DavidRoss on April 27, 2010, 07:10:17 AM
I don't like Hahn's Bach either. It sounds mechanical to me too, with tempos tending to be way too fast.

Then you will probably prefer Hahn. Compared to Kennedy she is cooler (although no ice maiden either). The requisite emotions are there, not short-changed...at least that's the way I hear her. I do love what she and Davis do with the work but I seem to be a minority...
The Hahn/Kahane Bach VCs are not my faves, either...but may be overdue for another hearing.  I do like her Elgar--not as much as her Mendelssohn or Beethoven--but the real treasure on that disc is her Lark Ascending.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Sergeant Rock on April 27, 2010, 07:32:17 AM
The Hahn/Kahane Bach VCs are not my faves, either...but may be overdue for another hearing.

Yeah, I should give it another listen too. Sometimes first impressions don't make the best, uh...first impression  ;D

Sarge
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: DavidRoss on April 27, 2010, 07:40:30 AM
Yeah, I should give it another listen too. Sometimes first impressions don't make the best, uh...first impression  ;D
I've probably heard their Lark nearly two dozen times.  It is my favorite recording of the piece among the half-dozen I own, all acquired incidental to the purchase of other works.  I listened to it last night, in fact, before bed, wanting to hear something serenely beautiful to set my troubled mind at ease.  But, as usual, I skipped the Elgar VC that precedes it on the same disc.

Perhaps I'll follow through with the Elgar later today...?  Though it's hardly my favorite VC and one I almost never reach for except after discussions like this!  8)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on April 27, 2010, 08:45:10 AM
I came to the Elgar concerto with a strong positive disposition, but I remain pessimistic that this work will ever win me over.  I don't find that the "romantic" violin concerto is one of my favorite genres, the exceptions are the Brahm, Beethoven and Sibelius.   Baroque, Classical or neo-Classical VCs are more to my liking (Bach, Martinu, Stravinsky, Hindemith, etc).

My characterization, too many notes, still holds, too much incessant figuration from the violin.  My favorite concerti don't have that.  The idea of a 10 minutes cadenza doesn't make any sense to me.  There is a 100 piece orchestra sitting there cooling it's heels and I should be listening to a single violin squawking away (even if it's not Kennedy)?  I am interested in thematic contrasts and development that people have described, but I wish Elgar had put them into a third symphony instead of this monstrosity!

Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on April 27, 2010, 08:55:31 AM
Interesting.

Now, for me, it's the symphonies which are borderline monstronsities . . . where the Concerto I like very well.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on April 27, 2010, 09:07:15 AM
Interesting.

Now, for me, it's the symphonies which are borderline monstronsities . . . where the Concerto I like very well.


Maybe my experience will follow Elgerian and I will like it 20 years from now.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Sergeant Rock on April 27, 2010, 10:44:25 AM
I've probably heard their Lark nearly two dozen times.  It is my favorite recording of the piece among the half-dozen I own, all acquired incidental to the purchase of other works.  I listened to it last night, in fact, before bed, wanting to hear something serenely beautiful to set my troubled mind at ease.

It is a hauntingly beautiful piece. I love it too. Listened to it today, matter of fact, not to the Hahn version but Iona Brown and the ASMF that comes coupled with the Chung/Solti Elgar VC. With me the concerto came first, today--the Lark an afterthought.

Sarge
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Sergeant Rock on April 27, 2010, 10:45:38 AM
I came to the Elgar concerto with a strong positive disposition, but I remain pessimistic that this work will ever win me over.  I don't find that the "romantic" violin concerto is one of my favorite genres, the exceptions are the Brahm, Beethoven and Sibelius.   Baroque, Classical or neo-Classical VCs are more to my liking (Bach, Martinu, Stravinsky, Hindemith, etc).

My characterization, too many notes, still holds, too much incessant figuration from the violin.  My favorite concerti don't have that.  The idea of a 10 minutes cadenza doesn't make any sense to me.  There is a 100 piece orchestra sitting there cooling it's heels and I should be listening to a single violin squawking away (even if it's not Kennedy)?  I am interested in thematic contrasts and development that people have described, but I wish Elgar had put them into a third symphony instead of this monstrosity!

Does not compute. My brain uses a different operating system obviously.

Sarge
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on April 27, 2010, 10:46:01 AM
Even Kennedy's Lark is listenable.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on April 27, 2010, 11:29:08 AM
The idea of a 10 minutes cadenza doesn't make any sense to me.
It sounds to me as though you're not going to get there this time around at least. The cadenza, as I've explained at some length, not only makes very great sense in its context, but actually lifts the concerto into quite a different realm, in my view. But it is absolutely necessary to follow closely the dialogue between the windflower themes, and to relate that to what went before in the first movement, or I suppose it may indeed sound like endless squawking, as you are finding.

Quote
There is a 100 piece orchestra sitting there cooling it's heels and I should be listening to a single violin squawking away (even if it's not Kennedy)?
This statement tells me something important about the way you're listening - or rather, what you're not listening to. Fact is, the orchestra isn't sitting there cooling its heels. As I pointed out in my first post, this is an accompanied cadenza, and the orchestra makes crucial commentary and interjections all the way through the violin's explorations in the cadenza. If you're not hearing that, then I don't understand what's going on.

It's a truism, but a work of art that proves difficult to engage with does have to generate some degree of fascination in the first instance, in order to stimulate the necessary persistence. (As I said, it's taken me many fascinated years of listening to come to admire it as much as I do now, but it did have to intrigue me in the first place or I'd have given up). It sounds as though (for whatever reason) that's not happening for you at the moment, and I doubt the Kennedy is bad enough to provide an explanation. In other words, it seems unlikely that a different recording will solve the problem for you. Probably best to drop it, but if you do choose to persist, I wonder if you might do better in the first instance listening to the second movement a few times. Its sad, gentle and lovely lyricism might help you to feel better disposed towards the work as a whole.

Quote
I wish Elgar had put them into a third symphony instead of this monstrosity!
It's quite shocking to see such a profound and exquisite work described as a monstrosity, but as for the third symphony - well he did his best but died before it was finished, and Anthony Payne composed a 'completed' version from Elgar's sketches. The result is astonishingly fine, and sounds a lot more like Elgar than it has any right to do.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on April 27, 2010, 11:51:29 AM
It sounds to me as though you're not going to get there this time around at least. The cadenza, as I've explained at some length, not only makes very great sense in its context, but actually lifts the concerto into quite a different realm, in my view. But it is absolutely necessary to follow closely the dialogue between the windflower themes, and to relate that to what went before in the first movement, or I suppose it may indeed sound like endless squawking, as you are finding.

This statement tells me something important about the way you're listening - or rather, what you're not listening to. Fact is, the orchestra isn't sitting there cooling its heels. As I pointed out in my first post, this is an accompanied cadenza, and the orchestra makes crucial commentary and interjections all the way through the violin's explorations in the cadenza. If you're not hearing that, then I don't understand what's going on.

Yes, I did not fail to notice that the orchestra accompanied the violin during the cadenza.  If thematic transformation is the focus, those themes could have been explored using the sections of the orchestra in an orchestral fantasia.  The overall shape of the piece, that a large orchestra, which we have heard play at length in opulent orchestration, falls silent except to accompany the much thinner sound of a single stringed instrument for 10 minutes at a stretch, is essentially unsatisfying to me. 

Quote
It's a truism, but a work of art that proves difficult to engage with does have to generate some degree of fascination in the first instance, in order to stimulate the necessary persistence. (As I said, it's taken me many fascinated years of listening to come to admire it as much as I do now, but it did have to intrigue me in the first place or I'd have given up). It sounds as though (for whatever reason) that's not happening for you at the moment, and I doubt the Kennedy is bad enough to provide an explanation. In other words, it seems unlikely that a different recording will solve the problem for you. Probably best to drop it, but if you do choose to persist, I wonder if you might do better in the first instance listening to the second movement a few times. Its sad, gentle and lovely lyricism might help you to feel better disposed towards the work as a whole.
It's quite shocking to see such a profound and exquisite work described as a monstrosity, but as for the third symphony - well he did his best but died before it was finished, and Anthony Payne composed a 'completed' version from Elgar's sketches. The result is astonishingly fine, and sounds a lot more like Elgar than it has any right to do.

A shame Elgar didn't take up a third symphony until it was too late, after so many years of writing so little music of consequence.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on April 27, 2010, 12:46:18 PM
The overall shape of the piece, that a large orchestra, which we have heard play at length in opulent orchestration, falls silent except to accompany the much thinner sound of a single stringed instrument for 10 minutes at a stretch, is essentially unsatisfying to me.
I've done all I can to explain why I find it one of the most deeply satisfying pieces of music I know; so there's nothing left to say, I think.

Quote
A shame Elgar didn't take up a third symphony until it was too late, after so many years of writing so little music of consequence.
Well of course he was a broken man after the death of his wife, so there was a long gap where he wasn't very productive as a composer. (On the other hand, he did make a large number of recordings during that time, and I wouldn't want to be without those.) It's characteristic, though, that when he did start to compose seriously again, an important part of the third symphony was inspired by yet another female 'muse' (Vera Hockman), and the dialogue with the feminine that's so crucial in the VC plays a significant, indeed unmistakable, role there also.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on April 27, 2010, 01:17:00 PM
I've done all I can to explain why I find it one of the most deeply satisfying pieces of music I know; so there's nothing left to say, I think.

Don't think I discount your analysis.  I am quite interested in the interplay of themes you describe.  It is the sound of the piece (taken in the viceral sense) that gives me no pleasure.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: eyeresist on April 27, 2010, 06:43:35 PM

Well of course he was a broken man after the death of his wife, so there was a long gap where he wasn't very productive as a composer. (On the other hand, he did make a large number of recordings during that time, and I wouldn't want to be without those.)
I understand he did a lot of revision during this period, and made arrangements of some early pieces, so it wasn't time completely wasted. A bit like Brahms, who spent his last years polishing his legacy.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on April 27, 2010, 07:57:42 PM
Back to Kennedy, I was leaving Amazon Marketplace feedback and came upon the order for this disc.

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41T4K5WZRML._SL500_AA300_.jpg)

It cost me 80 cents!   Efficient market theory at work!
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Sergeant Rock on April 28, 2010, 01:10:27 AM
Back to Kennedy, I was leaving Amazon Marketplace feedback and came upon the order for this disc.

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41T4K5WZRML._SL500_AA300_.jpg)

It cost me 80 cents!   Efficient market theory at work!

Now that you know you hate it, if you want to sell it, I'll give you a buck for it. You'll make a 25% profit  ;D

Sarge
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on April 28, 2010, 01:48:34 AM
I understand he did a lot of revision during this period, and made arrangements of some early pieces, so it wasn't time wasted.
Yes you're right, the period wasn't the complete vacuum that's often supposed. There was the Arthur Suite, for example, which, although it's hardly prime Elgar, is by no means a negligible work (he re-used part of it in the sketches for the 3rd symphony), and it re-emphasises the importance of understanding the chivalric ideal as a key component of Elgar's inspiration.

But even though there was this activity during that late period, there was nothing comparable to the flow of major works (the chamber music, the cello concerto) that had preceded it, until he started work on the 3rd symphony, too late.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on April 28, 2010, 02:00:22 AM
It is the sound of the piece (taken in the viceral sense) that gives me no pleasure.
I guess that particular aspect could be partly a Kennedy issue. I'd recommend leaving it alone for a while, but maybe keep an eye open for a cheap copy of this:

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/413Y51QSRRL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Elgar-Violin-Concerto-Quartet-Quintet/dp/B0001ZM8VI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1272452126&sr=1-1 (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Elgar-Violin-Concerto-Quartet-Quintet/dp/B0001ZM8VI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1272452126&sr=1-1)

Even at full price it's very cheap, and on the 2 CDs you also get the three great chamber works. So even if you decide you don't like Bean's performance either (which is nowhere near as flashy as Kennedy's), at least you get three other pieces of Elgar at his finest.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on April 28, 2010, 02:51:05 AM
I just want to say that I like Kennedy just fine in the Elgar Vn Cto.  Almost certainly prefer him to la Hahn.

Carry on.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Sergeant Rock on April 28, 2010, 04:57:35 AM
I just want to say that I like Kennedy just fine in the Elgar Vn Cto.  Almost certainly prefer him to la Hahn.

Carry on.


I do too. I just finished a comparative listen to my three CD versions (Kennedy/Handley, Chung/Solti, and Hahn/Davis) and Kennedy is the best fiddler of the three in this work. Hahn's tone disturbs me: very thin with a constant and same vibrato that becomes irritating...at least it irritated this morning. Chung is "feminine" too but with considerably more grit and a wider range of tonal shades. I really like her, and like too what Solti does with the orchestra: he's very sensitive to his soloist, follows her lead into emotional depths we usually don't associate with this conductor but when on his own, he takes the opportunity to let the orchestra explode. Tuttis are thrilling...I doubt anyone does them better, with more passion. The performance then makes a clear distinction (if I may borrow from Elgarian) between the masculine and feminine elements in the music. I'd be hard-pressed to choose between Chung/Solti and Kennedy/Handley for the desert island.

Thanks to all the folks who've contributed (even negatively--Scarpia is the catalyst of the discussion) I've come to love the concerto even more (and understand it far better thanks to Elgarian). I'm buying more versions. Ehnes/Andrew Davis is on the way and I just ordered Dong-Suk Kang/Leaper which is supposed to be a very different kind of interpretation than we're used to: faster, more volatile.

Sarge
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on April 28, 2010, 06:34:50 AM
I do too. I just finished a comparative listen to my three CD versions (Kennedy/Handley, Chung/Solti, and Hahn/Davis) and Kennedy is the best fiddler of the three in this work. Hahn's tone disturbs me: very thin with a constant and same vibrato that becomes irritating...at least it irritated this morning. Chung is "feminine" too but with considerably more grit and a wider range of tonal shades. I really like her, and like too what Solti does with the orchestra: he's very sensitive to his soloist, follows her lead into emotional depths we usually don't associate with this conductor but when on his own, he takes the opportunity to let the orchestra explode. Tuttis are thrilling...I doubt anyone does them better, with more passion. The performance then makes a clear distinction (if I may borrow from Elgarian) between the masculine and feminine elements in the music. I'd be hard-pressed to choose between Chung/Solti and Kennedy/Handley for the desert island.

Thanks to all the folks who've contributed (even negatively--Scarpia is the catalyst of the discussion) I've come to love the concerto even more (and understand it far better thanks to Elgarian). I'm buying more versions. Ehnes/Andrew Davis is on the way and I just ordered Dong/Leaper which is supposed to be a very different kind of interpretation than we're used to: faster, more volatile.

Sarge

Thanks Sarge.  My Hahn recording arrived today.  What you say about the Chung/Solti sounds intriguing, except that I really didn't like Solti's way with the symphonies, too aggressive and lacking in nuance.  Maybe now that I feel I have a handle on the symphony No 1 I can revisit Solti's performance with more perspective.  Unfortunately, the Chung VC is out of print and cheap copies are hard to come by.

In any case, I hope nobody minds that I play devil's advocate in these threads to try and get people to be forthcoming about what they like about music I'm having difficulty with.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on April 28, 2010, 07:32:55 AM
I just ordered Dong/Leaper which is supposed to be a very different kind of interpretation than we're used to: faster, more volatile.
I think Dong Suk Kang/Leaper is a real firecracker of a version and I'll be very interested to hear what you think of it, Sarge. He really sets it on fire in a way that I love, unlike Kennedy, who (I don't want to labour the point) is too self-consciously virtuoso for me. I was shocked when I first heard the Dong Suk Kang, because it is nothing like my favourite, Bean/Groves, and yet it has a wild, romany flavour to it that entirely convinces me, against the odds. I've often wondered why it's so convincing (when I somehow feel that it oughtn't to be), and the closest I've ever got to an answer is that it allows a different kind of feminity to come through: more Persephone than Demeter, perhaps: more the kind of gal who's more likely to run off with the raggle-taggle gypsies, than settle down one day as somebody's mum.

What Elgar would have thought of it I can't imagine. But if I could only take two Elgar VC recordings to my desert island, they'd be Hugh Bean/Groves and Dong Suk Kang/Leaper. (I should add, though, that I've only heard about a dozen different ones - there are still a lot out there that I'm not familiar with.)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Renfield on April 28, 2010, 07:34:41 AM
In any case, I hope nobody minds that I play devil's advocate in these threads to try and get people to be forthcoming about what they like about music I'm having difficulty with.

Let me chip in at this point and see, please, do go on playing devil's advocate! This has been one of the most interesting, absorbing, and informative threads on this forum for quite a while (at least in my estimate).


Re Elgar's violin concerto, I do have at least one of the Kennedy versions, I'm pretty sure I have the Hahn, and also pretty sure I liked it quite a bit; but - call me old fashioned! - I've come to know the piece via Menuhin/Elgar.

My impressions of it have generally focused on the innocence a lot of it projects, down to its seemingly (to me) wandering structure.

I additionally seem to recall I was impressed with Ehnes, whose version I do have somewhere, but bought right before I moved country a couple of years ago and didn't get a chance to rip (like many recordings I tend to mention like this).

If I find it, I'll give it a spin and comment. If not, I assure you (and indeed Elgarian), I will be reading anyway.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on April 28, 2010, 07:47:07 AM
Quote
In any case, I hope nobody minds that I play devil's advocate in these threads to try and get people to be forthcoming about what they like about music I'm having difficulty with.
I've had several attempts over the years to try to piece together an account of where I think the greatness of the VC lies, and of how it hangs together, but I can never arrive at a definitive account because my understanding of the piece is in a more or less continual state of flux; changing like a tree, rather than like a cloud, I hope - but changing nonetheless. I suspect there are changes of emphasis brewing every time I listen.

So your original post gave me the opportunity to revisit all that, pool the ideas together, and try to write a coherent account; and although I embarked on it because I hoped it might be helpful to you, by the end I was mainly finding it helpful to me. So carry on, by all means.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on April 28, 2010, 09:03:37 AM
There will be carrying on in any event, but let me go on record as encouraging the on-carrying.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Franco on April 28, 2010, 09:22:02 AM
Which Kennedy Elgar VC recording is the one under discussion: w/ Handly or the later one w/ Rattle?
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on April 28, 2010, 09:23:30 AM
Well, I only know the one with Rattle.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Franco on April 28, 2010, 09:27:28 AM
Sir Edward Elgar: Violin Concerto in B minor, Op. 61 - Nigel Kennedy / London Philharmonic Orchestra / Vernon Handley (http://www.amazon.com/Sir-Edward-Elgar-Philharmonic-Orchestra/dp/B000002S2A/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1272479124&sr=1-1-spell)

Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on April 28, 2010, 09:41:45 AM
Which Kennedy Elgar VC recording is the one under discussion: w/ Handly or the later one w/ Rattle?

I started the discussion with Rattle (although I have both recordings) and most of the performance specific comments have been about that one, although Sarge has the Hadley and has discussed his reaction to that one.   I've only listened to the orchestral exposition of Hadley's and by comparison Rattle's seems a lot more driven, Hadley's more noble in tone.  I'm not sure how the Kennedy performances compare.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: springrite on April 28, 2010, 09:45:45 AM
I started the discussion with Rattle (although I have both recordings) and most of the performance specific comments have been about that one, although Sarge has the Hadley and has discussed his reaction to that one.   I've only listened to the orchestral exposition of Hadley's and by comparison Rattle's seems a lot more driven, Hadley's more noble in tone.  I'm not sure how the Kennedy performances compare.

The Rattle is certainly more exciting but for me, the Handley just seems more right. Kennedy is excellent in both.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on April 28, 2010, 10:47:56 AM
Which Kennedy Elgar VC recording is the one under discussion: w/ Handly or the later one w/ Rattle?
I have both. I bought the Kennedy/Handley expecting great things but never grew to love it; bought the Kennedy/Rattle, later, with hopes that were dampened and misgivings that were confirmed. Brilliant playing, I guess, and I'm aware of the high reputation of both; I prefer the Handley (I agree with the comment about it seeming more 'nobilmente'), but in both the fiddling seems to miss the depths of longing and soul-searching that I feel are so important in this particular work. But it could be said that I'm an Elgar-VC obsessive, which may or may not be a good thing.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Luke on April 28, 2010, 10:59:19 AM
I have both. I bought the Kennedy/Handley expecting great things but never grew to love it; bought the Kennedy/Rattle, later, with hopes that were dampened and misgivings that were confirmed. Brilliant playing, I guess, and I'm aware of the high reputation of both; I prefer the Handley, but they both seem to miss the depths of longing and soul-searching that I feel are so important in this particular work. But it could be said that I'm an Elgar-VC obsessive, which may or may not be a good thing.

I just want to say thank you for your contributions to this thread which I've been reading with great enjoyment and admiration. My understanding and appreciation of the Elgar VC is much as yours is, I think, only you describe things so much more beautifully and passionately than I ever could. Funnily enough, I also share your admiration and preference for Hugh Bean's recording, which I don't think anyone else has commented on - all this discussion of Kennedy and Hahn etc. obscures what a wonderful recording Bean's is, one which I've not heard 'surpassed'. In a funny old way, I'm not sure this doesn't tell us something about the character of the concerto itself - that it's a piece in which a low-profile, thoughtful but not spectacular player with a special connection to the piece seems (to me) to have an advantage over the more powerful, super-charged names who cover it as one step in their leaps from concerto to concerto (I know, I am being dreadfully unfair!). As a concerto, it seems to me, this piece is much the same - and your description of it, to my mind (apologies if I misread you), emphasizes this, particularly the way you describe it drawing into itself in the cadenza rather than charging excitedly for the double bar as it could so easily have done - the way, that is, that it is self-searching and honest and full of integrity.

The Bean is available, very cheaply, on a twofer, with his reading of the VC and the violin sonata on the first disc, and the Allegri Quartet/Ogdon etc in the string quartet and piano quintet on the other disc. It's self-recommending, really
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: springrite on April 28, 2010, 11:25:14 AM
Haven't listened to the Sammons recording for ages and don't remember how I thought of it. Maybe I will pull it out in the next few days...
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on April 28, 2010, 12:29:29 PM
I also share your admiration and preference for Hugh Bean's recording, which I don't think anyone else has commented on - all this discussion of Kennedy and Hahn etc. obscures what a wonderful recording Bean's is, one which I've not heard 'surpassed'. In a funny old way, I'm not sure this doesn't tell us something about the character of the concerto itself - that it's a piece in which a low-profile, thoughtful but not spectacular player with a special connection to the piece seems (to me) to have an advantage over the more powerful, super-charged names who cover it as one step in their leaps from concerto to concerto (I know, I am being dreadfully unfair!). As a concerto, it seems to me, this piece is much the same - and your description of it, to my mind (apologies if I misread you), emphasizes this, particularly the way you describe it drawing into itself in the cadenza rather than charging excitedly for the double bar as it could so easily have done - the way, that is, that it is self-searching and honest and full of integrity.

The Bean is available, very cheaply, on a twofer, with his reading of the VC and the violin sonata on the first disc, and the Allegri Quartet/Ogdon etc in the string quartet and piano quintet on the other disc. It's self-recommending, really
Thanks for those kind comments - I always think that it doesn't matter whether others agree with our opinions about things that we care a lot about (like the Elgar VC in this instance), but it is always very encouraging to discover that we're understood.

I mustn't turn this into a mutual admiration session, but I feel compelled to say that I think you have perfectly nailed the essential character of the Bean recording, better than I could have said it. There's an inner 'quietness' in it - an innate sympathy with the music that has sustained many, many listenings through the years, for me, while the Kennedy fireworks emerge to brighten the sky for a short time and then return to gather dust on the shelf. That 2CD set of Bean/Groves, plus those glorious chamber works, is, as you say, one of the most rewarding Elgar bargains available. Let's promote it once more:

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/413Y51QSRRL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: eyeresist on April 28, 2010, 05:37:56 PM
Hahn's tone disturbs me: very thin with a constant and same vibrato that becomes irritating...at least it irritated this morning.
That was my reaction to Bean's playing, sad to say.
 
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on April 28, 2010, 08:24:54 PM
Queued up this recording this evening:

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51NoLffO7NL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)

Now that is much, much, much better than that duo of numskulls, Kennedy and Rattle.  Colin Davis knows what he is doing in this music, and Hahn plays with Lyricism, unlike Kennedy, who sounds like a banshee on amphetamines.   I think I may get to enjoy this piece yet!
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on April 28, 2010, 10:51:04 PM
That was my reaction to Bean's playing, sad to say.
There's an interesting hint of a polarisation of preference emerging here, with some lining up on what we might label the 'pro-Kennedy' side of the fence, and others on the opposing side: that is, those who enjoy the VC played with sparks and vigour - dare I say, a more masculine, beefy approach? While others (eg Luke and myself) who are seeking the more reserved approach, perhaps with more emphasis on the soul-wringing longing for the feminine. I'm sure it's by no means so simple as that, but it does suggest that there are at least two contrasting sets of expectations among us, when we approach the piece.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on April 28, 2010, 10:54:44 PM
Quote
I think I may get to enjoy this piece yet!
I'm almost relieved to hear you say that. There's so much to be discovered in it that it would be such a pity for you to abandon it as a result of a bad initial experience.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Franco on April 29, 2010, 01:53:16 AM
There's an interesting hint of a polarisation of preference emerging here, with some lining up on what we might label the 'pro-Kennedy' side of the fence, and others on the opposing side: that is, those who enjoy the VC played with sparks and vigour - dare I say, a more masculine, beefy approach? While others (eg Luke and myself) who are seeking the more reserved approach, perhaps with more emphasis on the soul-wringing longing for the feminine. I'm sure it's by no means so simple as that, but it does suggest that there are at least two contrasting sets of expectations among us, when we approach the piece.

Where do you place the Menuhin recording?  It's the only one I have in my collection at present.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on April 29, 2010, 03:02:07 AM
Where do you place the Menuhin recording?  It's the only one I have in my collection at present.

Or the Heifetz? It's the only one I have...
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Sergeant Rock on April 29, 2010, 04:20:23 AM
There's an interesting hint of a polarisation of preference emerging here, with some lining up on what we might label the 'pro-Kennedy' side of the fence, and others on the opposing side: that is, those who enjoy the VC played with sparks and vigour - dare I say, a more masculine, beefy approach? While others (eg Luke and myself) who are seeking the more reserved approach, perhaps with more emphasis on the soul-wringing longing for the feminine. I'm sure it's by no means so simple as that, but it does suggest that there are at least two contrasting sets of expectations among us, when we approach the piece.

I haven't heard Bean (the recording is not that easy to find at a reasonable price in Europe) so I shouldn't even comment here but, yes, you may be right. You characterize Bean as reserved, Luke says "low-profile" and the Gramophone review says the recording balance suits the "reticent nature" of the performance. So, reserved, low-profile, reticent...those are simply not the adjectives that come to mind when I think Late Romantic, which Elgar quintessentially is, as much as Strauss or Mahler. Elgar the man may have been reserved, as circumspect with his feelings as any good stiff-upper-lipped Englishman of his day...but he poured those bottled-up emotions into his music, fully expecting them to be heard clearly, I think. At least that's the way I want the music performed.

Masculine vs feminine probably isn't the best way to describe the interpretive difference between a Kennedy and a Bean (I don't know about you guys, but the women I've known have not been reticent about their feelings  ;D ) but it's a characterization we can all understand. The concerto contains both elements and that's why, the more I listen, the more I think Solti/Chung managed to get it all in perfect balance. The overt passion of the Late Romantic is there--literally exploding at times, almost out of control, but then always tempered by Chung's interjections, as though she's stroking Solti, calming him, figuratively.

But I will acquire the Bean too...I need to hear what all the "reticence" is about  ;)


...that it's a piece in which a low-profile, thoughtful but not spectacular player with a special connection to the piece seems (to me) to have an advantage over the more powerful, super-charged names who cover it as one step in their leaps from concerto to concerto (I know, I am being dreadfully unfair!).

I can't prove this but I think Kennedy's dedication to the concerto is every bit as strong as Bean's. For a star like him, who's had a controversial career, recording the Elgar twice says something positive, I think. (I'm not saying everyone has to like what he's done ;) )

Sarge
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on April 29, 2010, 04:20:54 AM
Scarps, are you kidding? Hahn plays the Elgar like a frog in a school lab what's just had its nervous system sliced out. The sort of frog which (you suspect) was none the most active even before he gave his life for science.

Give me someone like Kennedy who plays like the music MATTERS.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on April 29, 2010, 04:28:14 AM
Where do you place the Menuhin recording?  It's the only one I have in my collection at present.
Been working on it for years, and am still hopeful. It's authentic, it's Elgar conducting, Elgar loved the performance ... but although I go back to it at intervals, somehow it doesn't quite make it for me. I have no idea why.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Sergeant Rock on April 29, 2010, 04:45:50 AM
I think Dong Suk Kang/Leaper is a real firecracker of a version and I'll be very interested to hear what you think of it, Sarge.

I will comment on it when it arrives. Glad to hear such a positive response from you about the performance. I think 71dB loves it too.

Sarge
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on April 29, 2010, 04:59:02 AM
You characterize Bean as reserved, Luke says "low-profile" and the Gramophone review says the recording balance suits the "reticent nature" of the performance. So, reserved, low-profile, reticent...those are simply not the adjectives that come to mind when I think Late Romantic, which Elgar quintessentially is, as much as Strauss or Mahler. Elgar the man may have been reserved, as circumspect with his feelings as any good stiff-upper-lipped Englishman of his day...but he poured those bottled-up emotions into his music, fully expecting them to be heard clearly, I think. At least that's the way I want the music performed.
We're in extremely difficult territory here, because the nuances of meaning are so hard to convey. I'm not suggesting at all that the Bean performance is not emotional. On the contrary, it's heart-breaking, and the concerto, as you rightly say, is deeply emotional - too deep even for tears, one might say in places (though not in others, when my specs go all misty). When I use the word 'reserved' I'm thinking not of emotional reserve, but something I might describe as a 'technical' reserve. I can't listen to Kennedy without frequently feeling that he's playing to impress me. I may of course be mistaken, but that's the kind of experience I get. Now I don't get that with Bean. I feel almost that he's trying to make himself and his abilities invisible - an art that conceals art. He seems to be offering me a window into Elgar's music, whereas Kennedy seems to be saying 'look at me, and at what I can do'; and thereby he gets in the way of what I feel is the emotional heart of the piece. My personal experience of the VC is not at all a stiff upper lip sort of thing (though of course we do hear such things in a lot of Elgar, if only to be shown how fragile they are) - it's deeply emotional.

I'm not having a go at Kennedy - please be assured that I'm not; I can listen to Kennedy's versions and enjoy them. Neither am I saying that Bean is 'better', and neither am I claiming that my way of looking at it is the 'right' way.  I'm just struggling to convey what I perceive as the difference, and I don't know how best to explain it except like this. On the 'feminine' issue - again, I'm not saying that Bean's playing is feminine; rather, that I feel it allows me to hear the feminine aspects (or the longing for the feminine aspects) of the music more clearly, when that's necessary.

Quote
The concerto contains both elements and that's why, the more I listen, the more I think Solti/Chung managed to get it all in perfect balance. The overt passion of the Late Romantic is there--literally exploding at times, almost out of control, but then always tempered by Chung's interjections, as though she's stroking Solti, calming him, figuratively.
It's a long time since I last gave Solti/Chung a spin; my memory tells me that I struggled to enjoy the Solti side of that partnership (for the very qualities you describe here), but I'll give it another try.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on April 29, 2010, 05:09:14 AM
Give me someone like Kennedy who plays like the music MATTERS.

Not Kennedy, who plays it as though he matters, and his favorite football team (according to the lengthy essay which he wrote for the CD release).  I'll take the ice maiden over the preening Kennedy any day of the week.   ;D
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Sergeant Rock on April 29, 2010, 05:21:58 AM
It's a long time since I last gave Solti/Chung a spin; my memory tells me that I struggled to enjoy the Solti side of that partnership (for the very qualities you describe here), but I'll give it another try.

If you do give it a listen, I suggest turning your bass control down a bit. Especially in the first movement, there is a lot of intrusive thumping from the podium...it sounds like Solti really got into the music  ;D

I'll reply to the rest of your post later, after I've had a chance to mull it over. By the way, the Ehnes/A.Davis CD arrived today. I'll probably listen to it after dinner. Kang has been ordered but JPC has not yet sent it.

Edit: Not two minutes after I posted the above, I received an email from JPC. Kang is on the way  8)

Sarge
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on April 29, 2010, 05:40:35 AM
Not Kennedy, who plays it as though he matters

Extraordinary remark, which does not align with my experience of his playing, either on disc, or in person.

But do go on; these remarks gauge your part in the current conversation most colorfully.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on April 29, 2010, 05:55:10 AM
Extraordinary remark, which does not align with my experience of his playing, either on disc, or in person.

But do go on; these remarks gauge your part in the current conversation most colorfully.


Likewise, great sage.   ::)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on April 29, 2010, 05:55:24 AM
I'm not having a go at Kennedy - please be assured that I'm not; I can listen to Kennedy's versions and enjoy them. Neither am I saying that Bean is 'better', and neither am I claiming that my way of looking at it is the 'right' way.  I'm just struggling to convey what I perceive as the difference, and I don't know how best to explain it except like this.

I didn't think at all you were mudslinging, mon vieux.

This is a story I've told more than once, but perhaps never while you've been taking part, Alan.

 
At the University of Virginia, there is a concert series arranged not by the University but by a distinct 'impresario organization', with the baldly unimaginative name Tuesday Evening Concert Series (known familiarly as TECS).  My first month at UVa (where I took a Master's degree), I was at the department one Tuesday, and my shoulder was tapped to turn pages for the accompanist at that evening's recital.  So it was that I got to know both the Elgar Violin Sonata, and (not to speak to, of course) Nigel Kennedy, on the same evening.  Fabulous piece (which if anything I like even more than the Concerto, not that I don't like the Concerto a great deal), and a fabulous performance.  The man who played both that Sonata, and the Bartók Solo Sonata, is an artist of the highest calibre, who played that night with a blend of sensitivity and fire which continues to be an example to this clarinetist.
 
Ask me what I think of anyone who calls Kennedy a "numbskull."  (I haven't heard any musician call him any such thing. Hmmm . . . .)
 
No, go ahead: ask me.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on April 29, 2010, 05:58:02 AM
I just want to say thank you for your contributions to this thread which I've been reading with great enjoyment and admiration. My understanding and appreciation of the Elgar VC is much as yours is, I think, only you describe things so much more beautifully and passionately than I ever could. Funnily enough, I also share your admiration and preference for Hugh Bean's recording, which I don't think anyone else has commented on - all this discussion of Kennedy and Hahn etc. obscures what a wonderful recording Bean's is, one which I've not heard 'surpassed'. In a funny old way, I'm not sure this doesn't tell us something about the character of the concerto itself - that it's a piece in which a low-profile, thoughtful but not spectacular player with a special connection to the piece seems (to me) to have an advantage over the more powerful, super-charged names who cover it as one step in their leaps from concerto to concerto (I know, I am being dreadfully unfair!). As a concerto, it seems to me, this piece is much the same - and your description of it, to my mind (apologies if I misread you), emphasizes this, particularly the way you describe it drawing into itself in the cadenza rather than charging excitedly for the double bar as it could so easily have done - the way, that is, that it is self-searching and honest and full of integrity.

The Bean is available, very cheaply, on a twofer, with his reading of the VC and the violin sonata on the first disc, and the Allegri Quartet/Ogdon etc in the string quartet and piano quintet on the other disc. It's self-recommending, really

Though this winds up as thanks to Luke, it is also joining the chorus of his thanks to Alan.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on April 29, 2010, 06:01:55 AM
Having a dickens of a time trying to track down that Bean two-fer, though.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Sergeant Rock on April 29, 2010, 06:04:13 AM
No, go ahead: ask me.

I think Scarpia simply doesn't like football...I mean proper football...and therefore characterizes every hooligan as a numbskull  ;D

Sarge
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Sergeant Rock on April 29, 2010, 06:04:52 AM
Having a dickens of a time trying to track down that Bean two-fer, though.

Me too...at least a reasonably priced copy.

Sarge
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on April 29, 2010, 06:06:52 AM
Heck, Shostakovich was a football enthusiast.  It's not my thing, but I'm a live-&-let-live kind of guy.
 
Me too...at least a reasonably priced copy.

Yes, I've found it so far only in the humongo Elgar box.
 
And I just ain't going there.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Franco on April 29, 2010, 06:10:39 AM
There's a used (good) copy on Amazon.com for $4.99. (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0001ZM8VI/ref=ord_cart_shr?ie=UTF8&m=AVB9VPPZMOOT8)

:)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on April 29, 2010, 06:15:24 AM
Franco, you de man!
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Sergeant Rock on April 29, 2010, 06:16:57 AM
There's a used (good) copy on Amazon.com for $4.99. (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0001ZM8VI/ref=ord_cart_shr?ie=UTF8&m=AVB9VPPZMOOT8)

:)

Now find one for me in Europe  ;)

Sarge
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on April 29, 2010, 06:18:07 AM
Now find one for me in Europe  ;)

Sarge

It was with that consideration that I jumped right on that link without asking you first, Sarge.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on April 29, 2010, 06:19:47 AM
Can you search at amazon.de [sp?] with the criteria:

Label: Angel
ASIN: B0001ZM8VI
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Sergeant Rock on April 29, 2010, 06:25:38 AM
Can you search at amazon.de [sp?] with the criteria:

Label: Angel
ASIN: B0001ZM8VI

That doesn't work but "Elgar Bean" does of course. The problem is a new one is 25 Euro ($33), the cheapest used 18 ($24)...just too much for budget CDs. I have the same problem at amazon.uk...but I'll keep looking.

Sarge
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Sergeant Rock on April 29, 2010, 06:27:07 AM
It was with that consideration that I jumped right on that link without asking you first, Sarge.

I understand...and expected it. I rarely buy from amazon.com anyway because shipping costs are so much.

Sarge
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: springrite on April 29, 2010, 06:29:31 AM
I understand...and expected it. I rarely buy from amazon.com anyway because shipping costs are so much.

Sarge

It sure cost a hill of Beans...
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Franco on April 29, 2010, 06:38:47 AM
Here's inexpensive new & used copies from Amazon.uk. (http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0001ZM8VI/emi-jazz-class-21/ref%3Dnosim)

The CD finder at your service.

:)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Luke on April 29, 2010, 06:42:51 AM
Now find one for me in Europe  ;)

Sarge

well, when I checked amazon uk yesterday there was one for £4 something (but I bought it, even though I already have it - can't hurt to have two, in case of emergencies :D ) and another at £6 something.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on April 29, 2010, 06:44:28 AM
Thanks to the most interesting remarks of You Know Who You Are, I have just done something I don't believe I ever have done before: ordered three different recordings of the same piece at once.  Hugh Bean, Nikolaj Znaider & Dong-Suk Kang all playing that rare b minor concerto.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Sergeant Rock on April 29, 2010, 07:29:55 AM
Here's inexpensive new & used copies from Amazon.uk. (http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0001ZM8VI/emi-jazz-class-21/ref%3Dnosim)

The CD finder at your service.

:)

Thanks. Ordered a new one from Music Direct...whoever they are. I had to check their shipping rates just to determine if they were in the UK.

Sarge
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Sergeant Rock on April 29, 2010, 07:31:19 AM
It sure cost a hill of Beans...

 ;D :D ;D
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on April 29, 2010, 07:33:50 AM
I think the people at EMI may notice a curious blip in sales of this recording, which may very well have gone months without selling a single unit.   :)

Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: DavidRoss on April 29, 2010, 09:42:24 AM
I think the people at EMI may notice a curious blip in sales of this recording, which may very well have gone months without selling a single unit.   :)
Yep, three sales of used copies should have them champing at the bit to tool up and get this back in print ASAP!  Hugh Bean's agent is frantically booking venues for a world tour, featuring backup dancers in sequined miniskirts acting out the parts of Elgar's would-be lovers as their musical themes battle it out for domination in this blockbuster extravaganza coming soon to a senior center near you!
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on April 29, 2010, 09:55:13 AM
Yep, three sales of used copies should have them champing at the bit to tool up and get this back in print ASAP!  Hugh Bean's agent is frantically booking venues for a world tour, featuring backup dancers in sequined miniskirts acting out the parts of Elgar's would-be lovers as their musical themes battle it out for domination in this blockbuster extravaganza coming soon to a senior center near you!

Some of us got them new.  I know someone who used to work at EMI and was responsible for overseeing royalty payments to artists.  I am told the monthly table contained many zeros.  I'm suggesting Mr. Bean, if he's still living, might have the pleasant surprise of a $3 check from EMI this month. 
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on April 29, 2010, 10:04:04 AM
. . . featuring backup dancers in sequined miniskirts . . . .

They can't all be named Windflower.

(Can they?)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on April 29, 2010, 10:10:06 AM
featuring backup dancers in sequined miniskirts acting out the parts of Elgar's would-be lovers as their musical themes battle it out for domination in this blockbuster extravaganza coming soon to a senior center near you!

Which is why Hilary Hahn is a natural for this concerto.   Maybe a performance in which the various Windflower themes are parceled out to Hahn, Janine Jansen, Julia Fischer, Vilde Frang and Sara Chang.  8)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Franco on April 29, 2010, 10:19:49 AM
Yep, three sales of used copies should have them champing at the bit to tool up and get this back in print ASAP!  Hugh Bean's agent is frantically booking venues for a world tour, featuring backup dancers in sequined miniskirts acting out the parts of Elgar's would-be lovers as their musical themes battle it out for domination in this blockbuster extravaganza coming soon to a senior center near you!

Unfortuantely, Mr. Bean cannot capitalize on this GMG induced spike in interest - he died in 2004.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on April 29, 2010, 10:23:48 AM
Unfortuantely, Mr. Bean cannot capitalize on this GMG induced spike in interest - he died recently.

Unfortunately, but I doubt he would have looked good in a sequined miniskirt anyway.   :(
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on April 29, 2010, 10:25:43 AM
Unfortuantely, Mr. Bean cannot capitalize on this GMG induced spike in interest - he died in 2004.

His GMG time came too late!
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: DavidRoss on April 29, 2010, 10:28:18 AM
Which is why Hilary Hahn is a natural for this concerto.   8)
Not Nigel? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w8dq9NodWDY (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w8dq9NodWDY)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Franco on April 29, 2010, 10:29:05 AM
Hugh Bean
Dedicated violinist and teacher (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/hugh-bean-549267.html)

Quote
One of the highpoints of his career as soloist came in 1969, when he performed the Elgar Violin Concerto under Sir Adrian Boult, in a concert from the Three Choirs Festival that went out in a BBC broadcast. Bean had had a direct guide to the composer's intentions - Albert Sammons had been Elgar's favourite interpreter of the work - and the broadcast stimulated such enthusiasm that Bean received a bouquet of invitations to repeat his performance elsewhere. In 1972, with Sir Charles Groves, he took the concerto into the HMV studios, making a recording that soon became a classic.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: DavidRoss on April 29, 2010, 10:30:03 AM
Unfortuantely, Mr. Bean cannot capitalize on this GMG induced spike in interest - he died in 2004.
His GMG time came too late!

Maybe--but at GMG a musician's stock always goes up if he's dead!
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on April 29, 2010, 10:32:06 AM
Maybe--but at GMG a musician's stock always goes up if he's dead!

I was afraid he'd say that!
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Franco on April 29, 2010, 10:32:37 AM
Suicide as a career strategy?
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on April 29, 2010, 10:48:28 AM
Not Nigel? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w8dq9NodWDY (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w8dq9NodWDY)

Whew, that's a relief.  I thought you had found a video of him in a sequined miniskirt.   :)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: DavidRoss on April 29, 2010, 11:18:28 AM
Whew, that's a relief.  I thought you had found a video of him in a sequined miniskirt.   :)
Oh, no--the miniskirts are for these fiddlers: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HiaOFOMPOBc&feature=related
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: eyeresist on April 29, 2010, 05:12:06 PM
There's an interesting hint of a polarisation of preference emerging here, with some lining up on what we might label the 'pro-Kennedy' side of the fence, and others on the opposing side: that is, those who enjoy the VC played with sparks and vigour - dare I say, a more masculine, beefy approach?
No, for me the problem with Bean is specifically his tone and vibrato. Tone: very thin. Vibrato: constant, niggling. Overall effect like a wasp by my ear. But I seem to be overly sensitive to vibrato. I can't listen to Vengerov's, it drives me up the wall. Rostropovich too, to a lesser extent.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: kishnevi on April 29, 2010, 06:14:08 PM
Prompted by this thread, and the realization that it's been a while since I listened to it, I got out my one version of the VC--Gil Shaham with the CSO (Zinman conducting).
Basic opinion: Shaham pays attention both to the virtuoso moments and the emotional content, although he doesn't play the emotions on maximum.  I saw no indication of the "too many notes" syndrome.
Worst flaw of the recording: there is nothing couples with the Concerto on this disk,  so the CD is only 49 minutes long.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on April 30, 2010, 02:16:09 AM
My first month at UVa (where I took a Master's degree), I was at the department one Tuesday, and my shoulder was tapped to turn pages for the accompanist at that evening's recital.  So it was that I got to know both the Elgar Violin Sonata, and (not to speak to, of course) Nigel Kennedy, on the same evening.  Fabulous piece (which if anything I like even more than the Concerto, not that I don't like the Concerto a great deal), and a fabulous performance.  The man who played both that Sonata, and the Bartók Solo Sonata, is an artist of the highest calibre, who played that night with a blend of sensitivity and fire which continues to be an example to this clarinetist.[/font]
I envy you that experience. It's the kind of thing that's capable of changing one's perception permanently, and brings a special kind of insight that I think is enormously valuable. To be able to forge a special relationship of that sort with a performer, quite apart from the special warmth it induces, makes it easier to be 'open' to the music; one automatically gives the performer the benefit of the doubt, so that the negative 'I don't get that' response becomes 'why did he do that?' - which is more capable of leading us on to new insight.

I never met Hugh Bean, but his recording taught me how to listen to Elgar's violin concerto (and the violin sonata for that matter), way back in the 1970s when I could hardly afford to buy records at all, and certainly not alternative versions. So his recording was for a long time all I had, but over the years as I read more about Elgar, and his letters, and Windflower, and Billy Reed, and so on, I always found that Bean's recording was able to transform the knowledge I'd gathered from the books to a directly felt, musical experience: the sensitivity of his playing always matched so perfectly with what I was reading, and drew me deeper in. I wish that I'd written to tell him so, and thank him. Too late now.

(Incidentally, I was listening, as I wrote this, to the first movement, and from the very first moment that Bean's violin entered, so delicately and sensitively, as if every note of Elgar's is understood, it became impossible to do anything other than stop writing, and listen.)

So you see, look at all this baggage I carry around with me! I can no more expect others to listen to Bean the way I do, than you could expect others to have the special way of listening to Kennedy that you have, Karl. One of the problems we face when we try to describe the differences we hear is that at one level the differences are often extremely subtle, while on another they're crucial. So I think we often exaggerate our response to what we're hearing, when we talk or write about it. To try to balance things a bit, in case anyone suspects me of Beanmania, it may be worth saying that every one of the dozen or so recordings of the Elgar violin concerto that I own is capable of moving me to tears. The fact that Bean/Groves (and to a lesser extent Kang/Leaper) emerges for me as something special doesn't actually mean I think the others are poor. I've never heard a performance of the VC that I thought was poor.

Incidentally, it looks like we're going to have to talk about the wonderful violin sonata sometime.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on April 30, 2010, 03:31:26 AM
Incidentally, it looks like we're going to have to talk about the wonderful violin sonata sometime.

Bring it on! ; )
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: DavidRoss on April 30, 2010, 03:33:18 AM
...to forge a special relationship of that sort with a performer...makes it easier to be 'open' to the music; one automatically gives the performer the benefit of the doubt, so that the negative 'I don't get that' response becomes 'why did he do that?' - which is more capable of leading us on to new insight.
Cool, Alan.   8)  This observation drives to the heart of what has proven among the most valuable lessons of my life:  when I listen to understand instead of to oppose, I learn.  My world expands.  Perhaps compassion is what opens our minds to understanding...especially when others seem different or strange, when the way they play or the words they say assail us with new perspectives that challenge us to stray from the comfortable security of the familiar.  Compassion enables us to welcome the challenge instead of resisting it, and thus to see with new eyes, hear with new ears, and discover what may be of value in the points of view others offer.

Having said all that, I'm still not sure that I'm ready for Bean's take on Elgar.

(http://facebook-advertising-marketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/mrbean-270x300.jpg)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on April 30, 2010, 03:34:17 AM
I envy you that experience. It's the kind of thing that's capable of changing one's perception permanently, and brings a special kind of insight that I think is enormously valuable. To be able to forge a special relationship of that sort with a performer, quite apart from the special warmth it induces, makes it easier to be 'open' to the music; one automatically gives the performer the benefit of the doubt, so that the negative 'I don't get that' response becomes 'why did he do that?' - which is more capable of leading us on to new insight.

I never met Hugh Bean, but his recording taught me how to listen to Elgar's violin concerto (and the violin sonata for that matter), way back in the 1970s when I could hardly afford to buy records at all, and certainly not alternative versions. So his recording was for a long time all I had, but over the years as I read more about Elgar, and his letters, and Windflower, and Billy Reed, and so on, I always found that Bean's recording was able to transform the knowledge I'd gathered from the books to a directly felt, musical experience: the sensitivity of his playing always matched so perfectly with what I was reading, and drew me deeper in. I wish that I'd written to tell him so, and thank him. Too late now.

(Incidentally, I was listening, as I wrote this, to the first movement, and from the very first moment that Bean's violin entered, so delicately and sensitively, as if every note of Elgar's is understood, it became impossible to do anything other than stop writing, and listen.)

So you see, look at all this baggage I carry around with me! I can no more expect others to listen to Bean the way I do, than you could expect others to have the special way of listening to Kennedy that you have, Karl. One of the problems we face when we try to describe the differences we hear is that at one level the differences are often extremely subtle, while on another they're crucial. So I think we often exaggerate our response to what we're hearing, when we talk or write about it. To try to balance things a bit, in case anyone suspects me of Beanmania, it may be worth saying that every one of the dozen or so recordings of the Elgar violin concerto that I own is capable of moving me to tears. The fact that Bean/Groves (and to a lesser extent Kang/Leaper) emerges for me as something special doesn't actually mean I think the others are poor. I've never heard a performance of the VC that I thought was poor.

A thorough pleasure to read, thank you!  Looking forward to getting to know the Bean and Kang recordings!
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Sergeant Rock on April 30, 2010, 03:40:46 AM
Due to a chronic condition I've decided to limit my contributions to short bursts for a few days. Hoping that will relieve the painful symptoms. And too, I have Kang on the way from JPC, Bean en route from the UK (just got an email from the seller) and the Ehnes/A. Davis in my hands now. I'll write up my impressions of all three next week.

Sarge
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on April 30, 2010, 03:41:10 AM
Cool, Alan.   8)  This observation drives to the heart of what has proven among the most valuable lessons of my life:  when I listen to understand instead of to oppose, I learn.  My world expands.  Perhaps compassion is what opens our minds to understanding [. . . .]

This really hit me (not that it was a new idea) when I read it very simply put in the foreword of Jazz by Gary Giddins and Scott DeVeaux:

Quote
All music—all art, all entertainment—requires empathy [. . . .]

What I find myself to be increasingly aware of, participating in Internet music discussion fora, is how many of us seem to take their empathy for certain [pieces/composers/performers/recordings], and employ that as a bridgehead to assail [pieces/composers/performers/recordings] for which they somehow do not have empathy.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on April 30, 2010, 04:07:30 AM
Have you given the Hahn recording a spin yet, Alan?
I've been taking a peek at a couple of reviews of Ms Hahn's version, and they don't make for encouraging reading. Here's Gramophone:
http://www.gramophone.net/Issue/Page/November%202004/60/849308/Elgar+Vaughan+Williams+Elgar+Violin+Concerto+Vaughan+Williams+The+Lark+Ascending+Hilary+Hahn+vn+London+Symphony+Orchestra++Sir+Colin+Davis+DG+0+474+5042+....+8732+%2866+%E2%80%A2+DDD%29 (http://www.gramophone.net/Issue/Page/November%202004/60/849308/Elgar+Vaughan+Williams+Elgar+Violin+Concerto+Vaughan+Williams+The+Lark+Ascending+Hilary+Hahn+vn+London+Symphony+Orchestra++Sir+Colin+Davis+DG+0+474+5042+....+8732+%2866+%E2%80%A2+DDD%29)

and here's MusicWeb:
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2004/Sept04/Elgar_Hahn.htm (http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2004/Sept04/Elgar_Hahn.htm)

Both a bit worrying, really, when I add your comments to those, Karl. Point is, I don't have Ehnes, and I don't have Zehetmair (to name only more recent ones among many others), both of which I'd like to try - and so I'm wondering whether I really want to spend £10 on Ms Hahn's recording at this stage. I think I shall pass for the moment, and keep an eye open for a cheap 2nd hand copy.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on April 30, 2010, 04:12:16 AM
Due to a chronic condition I've decided to limit my contributions to short bursts for a few days. Hoping that will relieve the painful symptoms. And too, I have Kang on the way from JPC, Bean en route from the UK (just got an email from the seller) and the Ehnes/A. Davis in my hands now. I'll write up my impressions of all three next week.
Sorry to hear you're suffering, Sarge. At least you have in your hands, and in the post, the potential to alleviate the symptoms through ennobling distraction!
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: eyeresist on April 30, 2010, 04:16:03 AM
Hope you feel better soon, Sarge.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on April 30, 2010, 04:19:56 AM
Perhaps compassion is what opens our minds to understanding...especially when others seem different or strange, when the way they play or the words they say assail us with new perspectives that challenge us to stray from the comfortable security of the familiar.  Compassion enables us to welcome the challenge instead of resisting it, and thus to see with new eyes, hear with new ears, and discover what may be of value in the points of view others offer.
Interesting choice of word there, Dave: couple that with Karl's 'empathy' and we're getting very close to the real centre of not only the 'art experience' but also the essential core of  human experience. Which of course is why art is capable of making such profound changes in us, when we're receptive enough to allow it.

Quote
Having said all that, I'm still not sure that I'm ready for Bean's take on Elgar.
(http://facebook-advertising-marketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/mrbean-270x300.jpg)
I don't think the World is ready for it, actually. His deeply misunderstood technique is based on his revolutionary recognition that the violin has hitherto been used by all players with the wrong end under the chin.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: DavidRoss on April 30, 2010, 04:22:04 AM
I've been taking a peek at a couple of reviews of Ms Hahn's version, and they don't make for encouraging reading.
Discouraging, indeed.  Sure glad I wasn't swayed by them before getting my copy!  It seems as if Ms Hahn's success has bred the inevitable backlash.

Best wishes for a speedy recovery, Sarge!
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on April 30, 2010, 04:24:49 AM
What I find myself to be increasingly aware of, participating in Internet music discussion fora, is how many of us seem to take their empathy for certain [pieces/composers/performers/recordings], and employ that as a bridgehead to assail [pieces/composers/performers/recordings] for which they somehow do not have empathy.
It's said that if you look closely at the two fish in the Python fish-slapping dance, one is labelled Empathy and the other, Compassion.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on April 30, 2010, 04:25:06 AM
Discouraging, indeed.  Sure glad I wasn't swayed by them before getting my copy!  It seems as if Ms Hahn's success has bred the inevitable backlash.

That may be (probably in those reviews, which I have not read) . . . but my less-than-complete satisfaction with the recording is just a matter between my ears, so to speak.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on April 30, 2010, 04:26:10 AM
It's said that if you look closely at the two fish in the Python fish-slapping dance, one is labelled Empathy and the other, Compassion.

I dread to think of the Name of the fish in John Cleese's hands.

— Oh! Must be Eric!
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Sergeant Rock on April 30, 2010, 04:32:58 AM
Hope you feel better soon, Sarge.

Thank you but I remain pessimistic for now. They can't find a cause for what's ailing me. Giving up my computer for a few days, or a few weeks, would ease the discomfort but that's not causing my symptoms, only aggravating them. I need Dr. House  :D

Discouraging, indeed.  Sure glad I wasn't swayed by them before getting myIt seems as if Ms Hahn's success has bred the inevitable backlash.

While I agree wth some of the criticism (a lack of tonal variety is my biggest complaint against her playing) I think they are way too harsh on her and Davis. The truth, I think, lies somewhere between Gramophone's put down and Hurwitz's 10/10 rave.

Quote
Best wishes for a speedy recovery, Sarge!

Thanks, David.

Sarge
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on April 30, 2010, 04:37:47 AM
I've been taking a peek at a couple of reviews of Ms Hahn's version, and they don't make for encouraging reading. Here's Gramophone:
http://www.gramophone.net/Issue/Page/November%202004/60/849308/Elgar+Vaughan+Williams+Elgar+Violin+Concerto+Vaughan+Williams+The+Lark+Ascending+Hilary+Hahn+vn+London+Symphony+Orchestra++Sir+Colin+Davis+DG+0+474+5042+....+8732+%2866+%E2%80%A2+DDD%29 (http://www.gramophone.net/Issue/Page/November%202004/60/849308/Elgar+Vaughan+Williams+Elgar+Violin+Concerto+Vaughan+Williams+The+Lark+Ascending+Hilary+Hahn+vn+London+Symphony+Orchestra++Sir+Colin+Davis+DG+0+474+5042+....+8732+%2866+%E2%80%A2+DDD%29)

and here's MusicWeb:
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2004/Sept04/Elgar_Hahn.htm (http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2004/Sept04/Elgar_Hahn.htm)

Both a bit worrying, really, when I add your comments to those, Karl. Point is, I don't have Ehnes, and I don't have Zehetmair (to name only more recent ones among many others), both of which I'd like to try - and so I'm wondering whether I really want to spend £10 on Ms Hahn's recording at this stage. I think I shall pass for the moment, and keep an eye open for a cheap 2nd hand copy.

Oh, piffle.  One one thing I learned from this review is the Hilary Hahn is not British.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Sergeant Rock on April 30, 2010, 04:40:32 AM
Sorry to hear you're suffering, Sarge. At least you have in your hands, and in the post, the potential to alleviate the symptoms through ennobling distraction!

I do indeed  :)  ..matter of fact, the postwoman just now delivered the JPC package that includes Kang.

Sarge
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on April 30, 2010, 04:42:25 AM
I do indeed  :)  ..matter of fact, the postwoman just now delivered the JPC package that includes Kang.

Sarge

Now, now, we don't want to be listening to something that will get us all excited.  Best to queue up a dozen or so recordings of Pachbel's Canon.   8)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on April 30, 2010, 04:43:45 AM
I do indeed  :)  ..matter of fact, the postwoman just now delivered the JPC package that includes Kang.
Prepare yourself to be whisked away into the alternative raggle-taggle gypsy world of Windflower!
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on April 30, 2010, 04:58:27 AM
Oh, piffle.  One one thing I learned from this review is the Hilary Hahn is not British.
Well, not having heard the recording I can't say anything directly about the piffleness coefficient of those reviews, but I'm concerned about statements like this:

'After the LSO’s portentous opening to the work Hahn enters with limply defined tone and half-hearted expression. What should be a moment of magical wonder (identical almost to the soloists first entry in Beethoven’s concerto) passes as nondescript ambivalence.'

The reviewer wins my sympathy by his recognition of how special that first violin entry is in this concerto (in fact I was talking about this in an earlier post, commenting on the sensitivity of Bean's first entry). 'Magical wonder' it is, indeed. So if he thinks Hahn hasn't captured that, it gives me pause. Doesn't mean I'll agree with him when I listen to it myself, but it's an interesting thing for him to say, from my point of view.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: mc ukrneal on April 30, 2010, 05:00:11 AM
Due to a chronic condition I've decided to limit my contributions to short bursts for a few days. Hoping that will relieve the painful symptoms. And too, I have Kang on the way from JPC, Bean en route from the UK (just got an email from the seller) and the Ehnes/A. Davis in my hands now. I'll write up my impressions of all three next week.

Sarge

Sorry to hear that. Perhaps a dose of Elgar every four hours (and a pretty cover) will help? And if not - at least no side effects (except good ones I would think).
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on April 30, 2010, 05:09:14 AM
Well, not having heard the recording I can't say anything directly about the piffleness coefficient of those reviews, but I'm concerned about statements like this:

'After the LSO’s portentous opening to the work Hahn enters with limply defined tone and half-hearted expression. What should be a moment of magical wonder (identical almost to the soloists first entry in Beethoven’s concerto) passes as nondescript ambivalence.'

The reviewer wins my sympathy by his recognition of how special that first violin entry is in this concerto (in fact I was talking about this in an earlier post, commenting on the sensitivity of Bean's first entry). 'Magical wonder' it is, indeed. So if he thinks Hahn hasn't captured that, it gives me pause. Doesn't mean I'll agree with him when I listen to it myself, but it's an interesting thing for him to say, from my point of view.

I find the statement more telling about the reviewer than the review.   I think the violin should enter with some delicacy, not an overwrought, melodramatic outburst.  In fact, my problem with Kennedy was that he seemed to think it was necessary to torture every music phrase in the piece as if to represent a soul writhing in the lowest circle of Dante's inferno.  Grace and poise, which Hahn exhibits, are not bad attributes in this music, to my mind.  My main problem with the recording is the unnatural acoustic I associate with Abbey Road.  I wish they had recorded it in a proper concert hall.
 
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on April 30, 2010, 05:20:41 AM
Just been trawling through the Gramophone archive. Because the Bean/Groves Elgar VC has been reissued so many times, there have been quite a lot of reviews of it down the years, and I've found it a great pleasure this afternoon to dredge them up and compare notes with them. Here they are, in case anyone else is interested:

1973:
http://www.gramophone.net/Issue/Page/July%201973/44/820954/ELGAR.+Violin+Concerto+in+B+minor%2C+Op.+61.+Hugh+Bean+%28violin%29%2C+Royal+Liver+pool+Philharmonic+Orchestra+conducted+by+Sir+Charles+Groves.+HMV+ASD2883+%28J228%29. (http://www.gramophone.net/Issue/Page/July%201973/44/820954/ELGAR.+Violin+Concerto+in+B+minor%2C+Op.+61.+Hugh+Bean+%28violin%29%2C+Royal+Liver+pool+Philharmonic+Orchestra+conducted+by+Sir+Charles+Groves.+HMV+ASD2883+%28J228%29.)

1980:
http://www.gramophone.net/Issue/Page/January%201980/41/823828/Orchestra+conducted+by+Sir+Charles+Groves. (http://www.gramophone.net/Issue/Page/January%201980/41/823828/Orchestra+conducted+by+Sir+Charles+Groves.)

1993:
http://www.gramophone.net/Issue/Page/September%201993/50/761559/+Elgar+Concerto+for+Violin+and+Orchestra+in+B+minor%2C+Op.+61a.+Sonata+for+Violin+and+Piano+in+E+minor%2C+Op.+82b+Hugh+Bean+%28vn%29+bDavid+Parkhouse+%28p1%29.+aYj+Liverpool+Philharmonic+Orchestra+I+Sir+Charles+Groves. (http://www.gramophone.net/Issue/Page/September%201993/50/761559/+Elgar+Concerto+for+Violin+and+Orchestra+in+B+minor%2C+Op.+61a.+Sonata+for+Violin+and+Piano+in+E+minor%2C+Op.+82b+Hugh+Bean+%28vn%29+bDavid+Parkhouse+%28p1%29.+aYj+Liverpool+Philharmonic+Orchestra+I+Sir+Charles+Groves.)

2004:
http://www.gramophone.net/Issue/Page/November%202004/69/849326/Elgar (http://www.gramophone.net/Issue/Page/November%202004/69/849326/Elgar)

There's an honorable mention in passing from 1997 here:
http://www.gramophone.net/Issue/Page/October%201997/62/861522/Elgar+Concerto+for+Violin+and+Orchestra+in+B+minor%2C+Op.+61.+Polonia%2C+Op.+76b%2C+Ida+Haendel+%28vn%29+BBC+Symphony+Orchestra+I+Sir+John+Pritchard+18BC+Northern+Symphony+Orchestra+I+SirAndriej+Panufnik. (http://www.gramophone.net/Issue/Page/October%201997/62/861522/Elgar+Concerto+for+Violin+and+Orchestra+in+B+minor%2C+Op.+61.+Polonia%2C+Op.+76b%2C+Ida+Haendel+%28vn%29+BBC+Symphony+Orchestra+I+Sir+John+Pritchard+18BC+Northern+Symphony+Orchestra+I+SirAndriej+Panufnik.)

Then there's a roundup of a whole string of versions of the VC speading over several pages, here, from 1998:
http://www.gramophone.net/Issue/Page/February%201998/28/746969/Elgars (http://www.gramophone.net/Issue/Page/February%201998/28/746969/Elgars)

Some interesting comments in these last two about Kang, too.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on April 30, 2010, 05:22:51 AM
Prepare yourself to be whisked away into the alternative raggle-taggle gypsy world of Windflower!

All I can say is: Zowie!
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on April 30, 2010, 05:23:37 AM
Or perhaps even, Wowie zowie!
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on April 30, 2010, 05:33:40 AM
Just been trawling through the Gramophone archive. Because the Bean/Groves Elgar VC has been reissued so many times, there have been quite a lot of reviews of it down the years, and I've found it a great pleasure this afternoon to dredge them up and compare notes with them. Here they are, in case anyone else is interested:

1973:
http://www.gramophone.net/Issue/Page/July%201973/44/820954/ELGAR.+Violin+Concerto+in+B+minor%2C+Op.+61.+Hugh+Bean+%28violin%29%2C+Royal+Liver+pool+Philharmonic+Orchestra+conducted+by+Sir+Charles+Groves.+HMV+ASD2883+%28J228%29. (http://www.gramophone.net/Issue/Page/July%201973/44/820954/ELGAR.+Violin+Concerto+in+B+minor%2C+Op.+61.+Hugh+Bean+%28violin%29%2C+Royal+Liver+pool+Philharmonic+Orchestra+conducted+by+Sir+Charles+Groves.+HMV+ASD2883+%28J228%29.)

1980:
http://www.gramophone.net/Issue/Page/January%201980/41/823828/Orchestra+conducted+by+Sir+Charles+Groves. (http://www.gramophone.net/Issue/Page/January%201980/41/823828/Orchestra+conducted+by+Sir+Charles+Groves.)

1993:
http://www.gramophone.net/Issue/Page/September%201993/50/761559/+Elgar+Concerto+for+Violin+and+Orchestra+in+B+minor%2C+Op.+61a.+Sonata+for+Violin+and+Piano+in+E+minor%2C+Op.+82b+Hugh+Bean+%28vn%29+bDavid+Parkhouse+%28p1%29.+aYj+Liverpool+Philharmonic+Orchestra+I+Sir+Charles+Groves. (http://www.gramophone.net/Issue/Page/September%201993/50/761559/+Elgar+Concerto+for+Violin+and+Orchestra+in+B+minor%2C+Op.+61a.+Sonata+for+Violin+and+Piano+in+E+minor%2C+Op.+82b+Hugh+Bean+%28vn%29+bDavid+Parkhouse+%28p1%29.+aYj+Liverpool+Philharmonic+Orchestra+I+Sir+Charles+Groves.)

2004:
http://www.gramophone.net/Issue/Page/November%202004/69/849326/Elgar (http://www.gramophone.net/Issue/Page/November%202004/69/849326/Elgar)

There's an honorable mention in passing from 1997 here:
http://www.gramophone.net/Issue/Page/October%201997/62/861522/Elgar+Concerto+for+Violin+and+Orchestra+in+B+minor%2C+Op.+61.+Polonia%2C+Op.+76b%2C+Ida+Haendel+%28vn%29+BBC+Symphony+Orchestra+I+Sir+John+Pritchard+18BC+Northern+Symphony+Orchestra+I+SirAndriej+Panufnik. (http://www.gramophone.net/Issue/Page/October%201997/62/861522/Elgar+Concerto+for+Violin+and+Orchestra+in+B+minor%2C+Op.+61.+Polonia%2C+Op.+76b%2C+Ida+Haendel+%28vn%29+BBC+Symphony+Orchestra+I+Sir+John+Pritchard+18BC+Northern+Symphony+Orchestra+I+SirAndriej+Panufnik.)

Then there's a roundup of a whole string of versions of the VC speading over several pages, here, from 1998:
http://www.gramophone.net/Issue/Page/February%201998/28/746969/Elgars (http://www.gramophone.net/Issue/Page/February%201998/28/746969/Elgars)

Some interesting comments in these last two about Kang, too.

From the first review:

Quote
When I first heard his opening entry I felt it lacked the kind of dramatic authority and command of Sammons and yet when one rehears it the very undramatic nature of his intervention seems part and parcel of his view of the work as a whole. it is as if the solo voice grows out of the exposition; he is the quiet voice of conscience rather than the dominating and forceful virtuoso; he is primus inter pares rather than the challenger of the orchestra.

Sounds like your Grammophon reviewer who ripped into Hahn would say the same of Bean.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on April 30, 2010, 05:35:07 AM
I think the violin should enter with some delicacy, not an overwrought, melodramatic outburst.
Certainly it should, and indeed that was my point, and why his comment interests me. Does the reviewer (who nowhere mentions Kennedy, I think) imply that he thinks it should be a melodramatic outburst? I can't find any such implication.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on April 30, 2010, 05:40:51 AM
From the first review:

Sounds like your Grammophon reviewer who ripped into Hahn would say the same of Bean.
Possible indeed, though I've yet to find out for myself whether Hahn's approach in any way resembles Bean's other than in being describable with words like 'graceful'. Until I've heard Hahn, and you've heard Bean, we can't reach any sensible conclusion between us about any of this.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: springrite on April 30, 2010, 05:41:16 AM
Saw this and wondered what it's all about and if it may be worth a listen:

Elgar, Violin Sonata {Paul Robertson w.J.Bingham, piano}; 'Wood Magic' (An account, told, as far as possible, in Elgar's own words or in those of friends and contemporaries, of how he came to write 4 pieces composed in 1918-19. Performed by Richard Pasco & Barbara Leigh-Hunt. Includes many musical excerpts performed by Medici String Quartet et al. Total time: 72'36')
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on April 30, 2010, 05:52:16 AM
Saw this and wondered what it's all about and if it may be worth a listen:

Elgar, Violin Sonata {Paul Robertson w.J.Bingham, piano}; 'Wood Magic' (An account, told, as far as possible, in Elgar's own words or in those of friends and contemporaries, of how he came to write 4 pieces composed in 1918-19. Performed by Richard Pasco & Barbara Leigh-Hunt. Includes many musical excerpts performed by Medici String Quartet et al. Total time: 72'36')
Thanks for this. Have you seen it for sale anywhere? I can find a CD called 'Wood Magic' which contains the string quartet and the piano quintet, but seems to be only the music, with no narrative so far as I can see.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: springrite on April 30, 2010, 06:14:40 AM
Thanks for this. Have you seen it for sale anywhere? I can find a CD called 'Wood Magic' which contains the string quartet and the piano quintet, but seems to be only the music, with no narrative so far as I can see.

I saw it at BRO. In addition to the violin sonata, I am wondering what the works discussed (and excerpts played) may be?
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Sergeant Rock on April 30, 2010, 06:28:34 AM
Now, now, we don't want to be listening to something that will get us all excited.  Best to queue up a dozen or so recordings of Pachbel's Canon.   8)

Following Dr. Scarpia's advice, I put this in the player:

(http://photos.imageevent.com/sgtrock/new/PCanon.jpg)


Sarge
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on April 30, 2010, 07:12:17 AM
Following Dr. Scarpia's advice, I put this in the player:

(http://photos.imageevent.com/sgtrock/new/PCanon.jpg)


Sarge

At the very least you'll soon be asleep and resting comfortably. 

In any case, hope you've soon recovered so we can benefit from your wisdom and prodigious record collection.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on April 30, 2010, 08:01:01 AM
Certainly it should, and indeed that was my point, and why his comment interests me. Does the reviewer (who nowhere mentions Kennedy, I think) imply that he thinks it should be a melodramatic outburst? I can't find any such implication.

He blames Hahn for "half hearted expression" then for failing to produce "magical wonder."   This is the sort of review which really puts me off the reviewer, blaming the performer because he did not experience the emotional reaction he wanted to experience at a certain point.  Frankly, I'm not interested in whether the reviewer experienced magical wonder, I'm interested in what the performance and recording sounded like.  I like reviews which are descriptive without being judgemental.

Hahn seemed more "magical" to me than Kennedy/Rattle, which struck me as rushed, mostly because Rattle didn't let the orchestra dwell on the low chord the resonates after the violin completes that initial statement.  If anything, Kennedy/Handley was the best at that particular point because Handley knew what he was doing there (noblissimente, and all that).  For me the entry is a point of repose before launching into the maelstrom and Hahn/Davis did it right, magical wonder notwithstanding.

Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: DavidRoss on April 30, 2010, 09:15:33 AM
Gee whillikers!  Y'all keep talking about those durned records 'n' I just might have to listen to both of 'em to see fer muhsef who's got the inside track on magical wonder. 

Though I note that Achenbach (the gramophone reviewer who dissed Hahn's Elgar) lurves Kennedy/Rattle in the piece: http://www.gramophone.net/Issue/Page/February%201998/28/746969/Elgars#header-logo  So is it any wonder that he's impervious to the charm of Hahn's comparative restraint?
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on April 30, 2010, 10:19:47 AM
Hmmm, anyone have an opinion of Perlman/Barenboim?  The stakes are low in this game, I got the Kennedy for 80 cents, the Hahn for $4, and the Perlman can be had for $2.50.  Only the Bean cost me a kings ransom.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on April 30, 2010, 11:10:34 AM
Frankly, I'm not interested in whether the reviewer experienced magical wonder
Whenever you and I have a discussion I always feel that if there's a wrong end of the stick to be grasped, we will grasp it. To clarify, then: I'm not defending the reviewer, or his style of reviewing - merely observing that he has identified what I've always believed to be a key point in the concerto (which I too might consider calling 'magical'), and that he recognises that it needs very special treatment. That tells me that the reviewer may have an understanding of this concerto that I can relate to, and that's why I find his comments less derisory than you do - and therefore possibly useful to me, if not to you. And now, given that I haven't even heard this controversial recording yet (!), enough about this fellow and his magical wonder. Let's get to the music!
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on April 30, 2010, 11:16:19 AM
Only the Bean cost me a kings ransom.
It's been around so long now as a revered classic, that I suppose it's acquired antique value....
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on April 30, 2010, 11:52:48 AM
Whenever you and I have a discussion I always feel that if there's a wrong end of the stick to be grasped, we will grasp it. To clarify, then: I'm not defending the reviewer, or his style of reviewing - merely observing that he has identified what I've always believed to be a key point in the concerto (which I too might consider calling 'magical'), and that he recognises that it needs very special treatment. That tells me that the reviewer may have an understanding of this concerto that I can relate to, and that's why I find his comments less derisory than you do - and therefore possibly useful to me, if not to you. And now, given that I haven't even heard this controversial recording yet (!), enough about this fellow and his magical wonder. Let's get to the music!

I am not anti-magical wonder.  But magical wonder is not a property of the music, it is a property of the person listening to the music. 
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: drogulus on April 30, 2010, 01:15:25 PM
     
     (http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/413Y51QSRRL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)

     I didn't even know this recording existed until I read about it here. So I ordered it immediately from Amazon yoo kay. It's OOS, so I don't know how long it will take to get it.

     My take on the Kennedy and Bean interpretations of The Lark Ascending is that they occupy adjacent space in terms of emotion and overall approach. If I prefer Bean in this work it wouldn't say anything negative about Kennedy. I never listen to the other Lark's in my collection. Maybe I'll do that tonight since all my RVW is on the Pod.

     
It's been around so long now as a revered classic, that I suppose it's acquired antique value....

      I once conducted a search for Bean recordings and missed this one.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: kishnevi on April 30, 2010, 02:52:14 PM
Well, not having heard the recording I can't say anything directly about the piffleness coefficient of those reviews, but I'm concerned about statements like this:

'After the LSO’s portentous opening to the work Hahn enters with limply defined tone and half-hearted expression. What should be a moment of magical wonder (identical almost to the soloists first entry in Beethoven’s concerto) passes as nondescript ambivalence.'

The reviewer wins my sympathy by his recognition of how special that first violin entry is in this concerto (in fact I was talking about this in an earlier post, commenting on the sensitivity of Bean's first entry). 'Magical wonder' it is, indeed. So if he thinks Hahn hasn't captured that, it gives me pause. Doesn't mean I'll agree with him when I listen to it myself, but it's an interesting thing for him to say, from my point of view.

I played the Shaham/Zinman (CSO) recording again, and I think Shaham captures that first entry near perfect--almost (but not quite totally) organically growing out of the orchestra.  The next few minutes, and much of the first movement in general, can best be described as meditative or introspective, although the extrovert element gets its proper share in due course. 
 Have not heard Mlle. Hahn, nor Messrs. Bean and Kennedy, so I have no idea of how Shaham compares head to head with them here.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on May 01, 2010, 12:53:31 AM
My take on the Kennedy and Bean interpretations of The Lark Ascending is that they occupy adjacent space in terms of emotion and overall approach. If I prefer Bean in this work it wouldn't say anything negative about Kennedy.
An eminently reasonable approach to take, I'd say. I could certainly wonder how I'd view these two alternatives if history had switched, and I'd been introduced to the Elgar VC through Kennedy, years before I heard Bean. Unanswerable, of course.

I hope you manage to get the Bean VC - it's clear from your comments here that you know what to expect, so I think you'll find it worth the trouble to obtain it.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: drogulus on May 01, 2010, 05:52:08 AM
       I received the order confirmation right away. They'll send me another notice when they ship it.

       The Hugh Bean recording of The Lark Ascending was my introduction to his playing more than 30 years ago. As I compared his approach to the piece to others I heard it occurred to me that the absence of certain virtuoso flourishes is the key.

      Would this be true in the Elgar Concerto as well? You might not think so. Elgar is not at all a "folkish" composer like Vaughan Williams. Yet the example of Nigel Kennedy's interpretation of the VC suggests that it pays to apply a rule of understatement by comparison to the norm for Continental composers.

      What about the Cello Concerto? What about Dupre/Barbirolli? I don't think any rule can cope with the example of what works. Second, I'm not referring to emotional intensity but rather the stylistic cues that virtuoso performers give off. Dupre uses a skinny vibrato, characteristically British to my ears. Or maybe it isn't British in any exclusive sense but often works well for British composers and not just EE and RVW. Why? I don't know, but one possible reason why I hear this understated way of playing as "correct" is my savage hatred of '80s hair bands and their wobbly vocal and guitar parts. (http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/Smileys/classic/cheesy.gif)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on May 01, 2010, 06:47:11 AM
The Hugh Bean recording of The Lark Ascending was my introduction to his playing more than 30 years ago. As I compared his approach to the piece to others I heard it occurred to me that the absence of certain virtuoso flourishes is the key.
I think 'the absence of certain virtuoso flourishes' is indeed a feature - at least, it is for me, as for you. When Elgar is described as a Late Romantic, it's true of course, but that's by no means the end of the story. In the violin concerto the big contrast, for me, is not between extrovert display of feeling and introverted contemplation, but rather between the face that he presents to the world (including perhaps the face that he feels he ought to present), and all the inner misgivings, private soul-searchings, and so on. That's different to the sort of heart-on-sleeve emotional thrashing about and tearing-up-my-comics that one might be tempted to associate with Romanticism.

I find these things are really impossible to justify in any technical sense, but this is where Bean hits the mark, for me. It's the subtlety of Elgar's position that's so difficult to capture, but which Bean seems to understand. I can see why someone might complain about 'thin tone' or 'too much vibrato' as I think Eyeresist did earlier (not that I do, myself), but for me such things seem insignificant in comparison with the deep understanding of the personality of the music. If it were just Elgar pouring out his personal feelings, I think I'd find it tiresome; but what he seems to tap into is something universal - struggling to achieve a balance between what's expected of us by the world, and what we secretly long for, and anguish over. That ever-so-delicate line is one that Bean walks perfectly, I think.

Quote
What about the Cello Concerto? What about Dupre/Barbirolli?
Do you know Beatrice Harrison's cello concerto, with Elgar himself conducting? Despite the fact that du Pre has made the cello concerto entirely her own, it's Beatrice Harrison that I find myself returning to again and again - perhaps for its 'characteristic Englishness' as you put it.

Quote
Elgar is not at all a "folkish" composer like Vaughan Williams.
Yes, although from the very beginning I've always grouped Elgar's Introduction and Allegro with RVW's Tallis Fantasia, as being closer together in spirit than almost any other pieces they wrote - and there are other examples. However, that's another story.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: drogulus on May 01, 2010, 07:42:49 AM


I can see why someone might complain about 'thin tone' or 'too much vibrato' as I think Eyeresist did earlier (not that I do, myself), but for me such things seem insignificant in comparison with the deep understanding of the personality of the music.

     Thin tone I understand, but too much vibrato? I need to hear this recording.



Yes, although from the very beginning I've always grouped Elgar's Introduction and Allegro with RVW's Tallis Fantasia, as being closer together in spirit than almost any other pieces they wrote - and there are other examples. However, that's another story.
     The first decade of the 20th century strikes me a compressed recapitulation of various strands in English music going back to the early Baroque. They were making up for lost time, as though the failure of English composers to figure internationally after the 17th century required the generations that came just before and after 1900 to reach back beyond that period for inspiration, or at least before 1750.

     You can add Holst's St. Paul's Suite in there, which dates from 1913.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on May 01, 2010, 08:01:06 AM
     Thin tone I understand, but too much vibrato? I need to hear this recording.

This comment came from the poster whose signature solicits recordings with no vibrato.  I'm still waiting for my copy to arrive, but I doubt vibrato will be an issue.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on May 01, 2010, 08:02:44 AM
     Thin tone I understand, but too much vibrato? I need to hear this recording.
See #680 for his exact description ('constant and niggling'). I should add that I don't find his vibrato at all intrusive or troublesome myself, but of course we all have different sensitivities and preferences for this sort of thing.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Sergeant Rock on May 01, 2010, 08:17:41 AM
     Thin tone I understand, but too much vibrato? I need to hear this recording.

I promised myself I was not going to enter the fray again until I'd heard Bean. But I just want to note that Eyeresist initially was commenting on my reaction to Hahn vs. Chung when I made a direct comparison. I wrote:

Quote
Hahn's tone disturbs me: very thin with a constant and same vibrato that becomes irritating...at least it irritated this morning. Chung is "feminine" too but with considerably more grit and a wider range of tonal shades.

In my case it isn't that I object to vibrato...I don't, I love it!...but that I found far more pleasure in the variety that Chung delivers. Whether I'll react as negatively to Bean as I did to Hahn...whether in fact Bean is actually anything like Hahn...well, I'll find out next week.

Sarge, always keeping an open mind
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: drogulus on May 01, 2010, 08:29:47 AM
This comment came from the poster whose signature solicits recordings with no vibrato.  I'm still waiting for my copy to arrive, but I doubt vibrato will be an issue.


      Ah, I see. Now order is restored. (http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/Smileys/classic/smiley.gif)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on May 01, 2010, 11:08:12 AM
I found far more pleasure in the variety that Chung delivers.
I tried listening again to Chung/Solti this morning, Sarge, but stopped after the first movement because I wasn't enjoying Solti's approach at all. This could simply be due to me not being in the right mood, and I realise there's scope for all kinds of interpretations; but I couldn't hear the all-important nobilmente in Solti's interpretation: lots of drama and sweeping waves of emotionalism, but invariably seeming somehow unElgarian. I realise of course that I could just be too set in my ways... But I'm going to try again on another day; there was no point in persisting when I was so clearly not tuning in properly.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on May 01, 2010, 11:27:25 AM
I tried listening again to Chung/Solti this morning, Sarge, but stopped after the first movement because I wasn't enjoying Solti's approach at all. This could simply be due to me not being in the right mood, and I realise there's scope for all kinds of interpretations; but I couldn't hear the all-important nobilmente in Solti's interpretation: lots of drama and sweeping waves of emotionalism, but invariably seeming somehow unElgarian. I realise of course that I could just be too set in my ways... But I'm going to try again on another day; there was no point in persisting when I was so clearly not tuning in properly.

Listened to the first five minutes or so this morning in anticipation of hearing the entire Chung/Solti recording this evening.  My reaction was different, I did not find it suffered from the lack of nuance his much earlier recording of the symphonies did.  I also had a positive impression from Chung's playing.

Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: DavidRoss on May 01, 2010, 12:25:48 PM
I heard Hahn's Elgar this morning.  No lack of emotion as I experience it:  pathos--all the more honest for its comparative restraint--but not bathos.  I don't hear uniform thin tone, either, nor lack of commitment.

Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on May 02, 2010, 07:45:54 AM
Listened to the Chung/Solti in it's entirety, and had a positive impression.  I was pleasantly surprised that the overly aggressive performance that Solti gave the symphonies in his old recordings with the same ensemble was not repeated in the Violin concerto.  Solti did let the orchestra get a bit carried away in the big orchestral tutti which comes about 2/3 of the way through the first movement, but not enough to upset the equilibrium of the piece.  Chung is very good throughout.  However, I consistently don't find myself in the transports of ecstasy that I am supposed to during the long cadenza of the finale.  I am evidently missing something, but I find little in it to interest or engage me.

The one thing that I am noticing in my exploration of Elgar is a certain "sameness" in his works.  In Beethoven, for instance, each symphony is it's own sound world.  In Elgar the range is not so wide.  The major orchestral works are impressing me as painted from the same palette (although it is a rich palette).   Perhaps a similar criticism can be made of other composer of stature, such as Bruckner.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on May 02, 2010, 07:55:32 AM
I consistently don't find myself in the transports of ecstasy that I am supposed to during the long cadenza of the finale.
If you did, I'd suspect that you'd put the wrong CD in the player. Ecstasy is a long way off: think in terms of loss, bewilderment, despair, hope (and the fear that the hope is vain) - these are more the sort of things to expect as it shifts through its various moods. It took me years - seriously - to come to something like terms with that cadenza.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on May 02, 2010, 08:15:03 AM
If you did, I'd suspect that you'd put the wrong CD in the player. Ecstasy is a long way off: think in terms of loss, bewilderment, despair, hope (and the fear that the hope is vain) - these are more the sort of things to expect as it shifts through its various moods. It took me years - seriously - to come to something like terms with that cadenza.

Ok, I've got the bewilderment, that's a start.   ;D
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: drogulus on May 02, 2010, 08:32:15 AM


The one thing that I am noticing in my exploration of Elgar is a certain "sameness" in his works.  In Beethoven, for instance, each symphony is it's own sound world.  In Elgar the range is not so wide.  The major orchestral works are impressing me as painted from the same palette (although it is a rich palette).   Perhaps a similar criticism can be made of other composer of stature, such as Bruckner.


      I agree about Elgar, and almost agree about Bruckner, though the masses and motets give one a wider perspective. Elgar's language is extraordinarily rich. I don't know whether this consistency counts as a weakness. I can see how it might, though.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: drogulus on May 02, 2010, 10:11:16 AM
     I was prowling around in my Elgar collection and came across this recording which I have to recommend, though I'm sure it has been recommended before, possibly by me.

     (http://pixhost.ws/avaxhome/64/88/00108864.jpeg)

     This is my favorite recording of the Enigma as well as the Introduction and Allegro. The recordings were made in the Free Trade Hall in 1956, and the Enigma was recorded by the team of Robert Fine and Wilma Cozart. The CD was mastered by Michael J. Dutton. I've heard that the Andre Navarra performance of the Cello Concerto is quite good. At the moment it's unavailable to me since it didn't make it onto my PC. I'll have to look for the disc. Anyway many of these Phoenixa CDs are rapidly becoming rarities if they aren't already. This is one for the ages.

     
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on May 02, 2010, 10:33:00 AM
I don't know whether this consistency counts as a weakness.
I suppose we must see whether it turns into a strangeness. (See how nimbly we leap from thread to thread!)

Seriously though, his ability to say so much within the limits of that 'consistency' (I'm not sure it's the right word, but it'll do for now) is part of the reason for my lifelong love of his music.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on May 02, 2010, 11:19:05 AM
     I was prowling around in my Elgar collection and came across this recording which I have to recommend, though I'm sure it has been recommended before, possibly by me.

     (http://pixhost.ws/avaxhome/64/88/00108864.jpeg)

     This is my favorite recording of the Enigma as well as the Introduction and Allegro. The recordings were made in the Free Trade Hall in 1956, and the Enigma was recorded by the team of Robert Fine and Wilma Cozart. The CD was mastered by Michael J. Dutton. I've heard that the Andre Navarra performance of the Cello Concerto is quite good. At the moment it's unavailable to me since it didn't make it onto my PC. I'll have to look for the disc. Anyway many of these Phoenixa CDs are rapidly becoming rarities if they aren't already. This is one for the ages.

   

That rung a bell.  I forgot I have vinyl of Barbiroll/Halle on Mercury Living Presence (Dvorak) and I wonder what other undiscovered gems there are in the un-reissued Mercury catalog.   Almost all of the mono Mercuries were never issued on CD. 
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on May 03, 2010, 02:59:00 AM
I knew I still wasn't in the mood for Solti's Elgar today, but decided to blow the dust off this, which I haven't played for a long time:

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/4195K4WVCXL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)

Perhaps the most significant thing I can say is that very quickly I found myself no longer asking 'how is Takezawa tackling this?', but simply accepting what was on offer and losing myself in the music. She's recorded very upfront, but that's fine; and Colin Davis produces quite a satisfying warm, spacious orchestral bloom which swells and fades in the right way in the right places, pretty well. There are times when he produces a sound very reminiscent of aeolian harps - which is all to the good in this concerto. (Elgar had several aeolian harps which he liked to place in an open window - I think he even made one himself.) Colin Davis gets this 'aeolian' aspect particularly well at the famous moment when the cadenza begins, producing a deliciously spooky prickling of the hairs on the neck.

Takezawa plays with great confidence but also with great sensitivity; she captures some of the most heartbreaking moments of the cadenza very well - enough to evoke tears for this listener, at any rate. All in all, this recording doesn't deserve the relatively long neglect that I've given it. It won't displace Bean/Groves for me, but certainly it's a fine interpretation. Sadly it seems to be out of print now.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on May 03, 2010, 07:41:00 AM
I find myself with this recording of the cello concerto:

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/315SAH8VYCL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)

Any comments?  I also have DuPre, but am reluctant to listen to that as my first exposure to the concerto, prefer to start with something more neutral.  I also found a copy of the Navarra used for dirt cheap.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: DavidRoss on May 03, 2010, 08:26:54 AM
I find myself with this recording of the cello concerto:

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/315SAH8VYCL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)

Any comments?  I also have DuPre, but am reluctant to listen to that as my first exposure to the concerto, prefer to start with something more neutral.  I also found a copy of the Navarra used for dirt cheap.
You've never heard Elgar's cello concerto?  Wow, you're in for a treat...arguably his finest work and one of the glories of the literature.  My first exposure was Tortelier/Boult and I still prefer it, but Barbirolli's terrific and with him at the helm du Pré is not so indulgent as in her later recording with hubby Dan.  Haven't heard the Gastinel, but suggest you just pick one and get on with it, time's a wastin'!
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on May 03, 2010, 09:19:37 AM
I find myself with this recording of the cello concerto:
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/315SAH8VYCL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)
Any comments?
I don't know that version, so can't comment. There are at least two essential recordings. One you know about already - duPre/Barbirolli. The other is Beatrice Harrison, with Elgar conducting. Both different, and both necessary. The JDP is so famous that I don't need to say anything about it, but Beatrice is usually less talked about. She was Elgar's cellist of choice: if she was available, she was the cellist he wanted, for the concerto. She remembered one occasion when:
'before I went on the platform, Sir Edward turned to me and said, "Give it 'em Beatrice, give it 'em. Don't mind about the notes or anything. Give 'em the spirit.'
And I hope and think I did.'

(Her book, The Cello and the Nightingales, is a delight from beginning to end.)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on May 03, 2010, 09:45:54 AM
Harrison sounds attractive, but recordings that are that old generally turn me off.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: kishnevi on May 03, 2010, 03:52:59 PM
I find myself with this recording of the cello concerto:

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/315SAH8VYCL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)

Any comments?  I also have DuPre, but am reluctant to listen to that as my first exposure to the concerto, prefer to start with something more neutral.  I also found a copy of the Navarra used for dirt cheap.

No experience of that recording, but in my experience the soloists on Naive are fairly capable, even if I've never heard of them before (many of them seem tobe in the middle of establishing themselves with European audiences).
My first version was Maisky conducted by Sinopoli;  I've recently expanded with the Dupre/Barbirolli and Mork/Rattle.  I do find the Dupre the best of the three, with Maisky and Mork about equal. It's not that Maisky or Mork do a bad job with the work; it's just that I find Dupre that much better.   The Maisky is coupled with the Enigma Variations and the Serenade for Strings in the incarnation I have; the Mork is coupled with Britten's Cello Symphony.  (I find the Mork recording of the Britten superior to the other recording of the work I have (the Rostropovich/Britten), in large part due to the sound quality.  Make of that what you will.)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on May 04, 2010, 10:03:05 AM
The Cello Concerto is "thin" Elgar. I like Janos Starker/Slatkin because I find that performance gives sonic meat around bones. 
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on May 04, 2010, 11:25:43 AM
The Cello Concerto is "thin" Elgar.
Could you explain further what you mean by that, please? (I can't relate the word 'thin' to anything in my own experience of the cello concerto.)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: drogulus on May 04, 2010, 11:53:38 AM
That rung a bell.  I forgot I have vinyl of Barbiroll/Halle on Mercury Living Presence (Dvorak) and I wonder what other undiscovered gems there are in the un-reissued Mercury catalog.   Almost all of the mono Mercuries were never issued on CD. 

     Amazon has several Phoenixa discs from the Barbirolli/Hallé O. series including Dvorak Sym. 8 & 7,9 (all stereo) and the Berlioz SF. The Berlioz is one of the best. These are all CD-Rs so the price is not outrageous.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on May 04, 2010, 12:15:57 PM
     Amazon has several Phoenixa discs from the Barbirolli/Hallé O. series including Dvorak Sym. 8 & 7,9 (all stereo) and the Berlioz SF. The Berlioz is one of the best. These are all CD-Rs so the price is not outrageous.

What exactly is the "phoenixa" series, I have never heard of it until now.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: drogulus on May 04, 2010, 12:35:12 PM
What exactly is the "phoenixa" series, I have never heard of it until now.


      These were EMI CDs released in the late '80s, recordings made from the mid to late '50s originally on the Pye label. Some may have been released as LPs on Mercury or other labels, and the Mercury team of Fine/Cozart was involved in a few of them.

   
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/512fqdLff9L._SL500_AA300_.jpg) (http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51%2Ba2oCtMGL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51DcMimmwPL._SL500_AA300_.jpg) (http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/517CdyhaBdL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on May 05, 2010, 07:35:59 AM
Could you explain further what you mean by that, please? (I can't relate the word 'thin' to anything in my own experience of the cello concerto.)
Compared to Elgar's other orchestral works the Cello Concerto sounds thin. It's composed for smaller orchestra (lack of players just after the war). I find the Violin Concerto more complex structurally than the Cello Concerto. Superb concerto nevertheless.  ;)

That's all I can explain as I am not musically educated. Sorry. Perhaps you could explain this as you are SO DAMN good talking about Elgar.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on May 05, 2010, 08:04:07 AM
That's all I can explain as I am not musically educated. Sorry. Perhaps you could explain this as you are SO DAMN good talking about Elgar.

But maybe Alan doesn't find the Cello Concerto any 'thinner' than do I. How do we explain your opinion, Poju?
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: DavidW on May 05, 2010, 08:28:56 AM
That's all I can explain as I am not musically educated. Sorry. Perhaps you could explain this as you are SO DAMN good talking about Elgar.

Whoa there!  He wasn't disrespecting you or attacking you just disagreeing with you, maybe.  Thin can mean alot of things, asking for clarification isn't a bad thing. :-X
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: DavidRoss on May 05, 2010, 09:09:04 AM
All this talk about Elgar's finest work, the late concerto for violincello, has me hankerin' for a listen to this emotionally rich and orchestrally well balanced composition, as recorded by Paul Tortelier and the London Philharmonic Orchestra with Sir Adrian Boult. 
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on May 05, 2010, 09:38:01 AM
All this talk about Elgar's finest work, the late concerto for violincello, has me hankerin' for a listen to this emotionally rich and orchestrally well balanced composition, as recorded by Paul Tortelier and the London Philharmonic Orchestra with Sir Adrian Boult.

I can only interpret this post as gratuitous cruelty, since the recording is out of print and well-nigh impossible to obtain.   >:D
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on May 05, 2010, 11:10:38 AM
Thin can mean alot of things, asking for clarification isn't a bad thing. :-X
Yes, thanks David. I was genuinely asking for clarification, and certainly not wanting to ruffle any feathers.

@71dB
Different words for different folks, perhaps. I wouldn't myself use the word 'thin' to describe it, although I can't help associating the cello concerto with  the chamber works because of course all were composed together at the same place at roughly the same time (the Brinkwells cottage). So if I were to say that I feel that the cello concerto often seems to have an intimate, 'chamber' feeling to it, I suppose there might be a psychological aspect to that.

I understand your comments about the VC, by the way. There's no virtue in trying to decide 'which is best', I think, but certainly the VC has fascinated and tantalised me over the years more than any other piece of music.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: DavidRoss on May 05, 2010, 11:38:35 AM
I can only interpret this post as gratuitous cruelty, since the recording is out of print and well-nigh impossible to obtain.   >:D
Beats me why EMI doesn't reissue this as a GROC, unless they think they have it covered with the ubiquitous duPre/Barbirolli recording--which has many virtues, though it seems a bit melodramatic to me, and the LSO's winds on that recording can't hold a candle to the LPO's.

You can hear a streaming mp3 of the recording here: http://www.rhapsody.com/london-philharmonic-orchestra/elgar-falstaff-cello-concerto-etc
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on May 05, 2010, 11:55:46 AM
the ubiquitous duPre/Barbirolli recording--which has many virtues, though it seems a bit melodramatic to me
Yes, I go along with that; I'd add, though, that she's pushing so hard at the limits of where that concerto could go, that it's almost inevitable that she'd go over the top at times. That's why I have exciting one-night stands with Jacqueline, but it's Beatrice I'm in love with.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on May 05, 2010, 12:03:11 PM
Beats me why EMI doesn't reissue this as a GROC, unless they think they have it covered with the ubiquitous duPre/Barbirolli recording--which has many virtues, though it seems a bit melodramatic to me, and the LSO's winds on that recording can't hold a candle to the LPO's.

Well, it is available in this set, which is cheaper than getting a used copy of the individual CD.

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/512MaZw4ZXL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)


20CDs for $48 ain't a bad deal.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on May 05, 2010, 08:04:08 PM
This one arrived today.

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/413Y51QSRRL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)

(After I ordered it, the Amazon page changed from "in stock" to 'this item has been discontinued by the manufacturer," so I officially have the last copy distributed in North America.)   :(

Don't have time to listen to it properly today, but couldn't resist listening to the opening, the orchestral exposition plus the entry of the violin.  Groves' philosophy is definitely that the orchestra should be like a proper stew, everything under thick sauce with nothing distinct evident. However, the relatively subdued orchestral sound allows Bean's entrance to be more dramatic, and it is certainly a velvety tone that he produces.

For comparison, listened to the opening of Hahn/Davis again.  Colin Davis definitely makes the orchestral exposition more spicey, with reeds and brass more penetrating in their interjections, and Hahn's entrance is more reserved and reticent, but it works in a different way (with Davis laying into the voicing of the low brass and wind chord that accompanies the end of Hahn's opening phrase). 

In any case, I sense Bean's performance will be interesting.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on May 06, 2010, 03:01:40 AM
Znajder landed by me yesterday, will give it a listen a bit later.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: drogulus on May 06, 2010, 03:20:38 AM
This one arrived today.

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/413Y51QSRRL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)

(After I ordered it, the Amazon page changed from "in stock" to 'this item has been discontinued by the manufacturer," so I officially have the last copy distributed in North America.)   :(



     Uh oh.... (http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/Smileys/classic/sad.gif)

     I opened my confirmation email and clicked on the tracking #. The tracking info said:

     "Not Yet Dispatched           

     We'll notify you via e-mail when we have an estimated delivery date. You can cancel at any time."


      It doesn't look good.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on May 06, 2010, 03:32:57 AM
Spike in Bean demand . . . .
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Sergeant Rock on May 06, 2010, 04:15:13 AM
My copy of the Hugh Bean twofer arrived today from the UK. As soon as I've heard it, I'll rejoin the discussion.

Sarge
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on May 06, 2010, 05:09:27 AM
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/511mWJkXnLL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)

My copy of the Elder/Halle/Zehetmair recording arrived today. I decided to try this partly because of the favourable reviews, but also because of the unusual couplings (bits from Kingdom and Gerontius, with Alice Coote doing the Angel's Farewell. Listening to the whole CD, with the VC sandwiched in this way was quite interesting!

But as for the VC itself .... I found myself at the end asking again the question I asked years ago: do I actually need any more versions of the VC, and does this add anything to them? And I think the answers are no, and no. This is not to say there's anything significantly wrong with it; there isn't. Elder is a good Elgarian, and anyone wanting a copy of the VC would do OK with this - it touches most of the bases, but isn't in any danger of displacing Bean and Kang from the pedestal I've put them on. The recording quality seemed adequate but not outstanding: both soloist and orchestra seemed a bit 'distant' and the sound a little constricted perhaps - but nothing that other people's personal preferences might not gladly welcome. For me, though, this was pretty much an unnecessary purchase, I'm sad to say.

Rummaging around afterwards, I dug up Menuhin's 1965 recording (with Boult and the New Philharmonia), which I haven't heard for ages, and played a few minutes of it: it sounded very good indeed (Menuhin understandably has a significantly different, steadier approach in 1965 than he did when recording it as a young lad with Elgar), and I hope to give it a more serious listen sometime soon and refresh my memory of it.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on May 06, 2010, 05:38:43 AM
Well, and Kang just landed, so I'll load that disc right up.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: DavidRoss on May 06, 2010, 05:49:23 AM
Well, and Kang just landed, so I'll load that disc right up.
I just listened to it via Naxos streaming and liked it quite a bit...better, in fact, than any other I've heard--but bear in mind that thanks to Alan's impassioned but civil and thoughtful advocacy, I've listened to this concerto more in the past few days than in the previous few years, and it's likely that increased familiarity is opening my heart to it more than before.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Franco on May 06, 2010, 05:51:09 AM
Quote
I dug up Menuhin's 1965 recording (with Boult and the New Philharmonia), which I haven't heard for ages, and played a few minutes of it: it sounded very good indeed

That's the one I have, and have been happy with it, but because of this thread I ordered the Bean from Presto Classical (reasonably priced at $11.49), it should arrive soon (I just got the dispatch notification).  I may have gotten their last copy since they no longer list it on their site.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on May 06, 2010, 06:01:51 AM
My amazon third-party order of the Bean has got canceled.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on May 06, 2010, 06:26:16 AM
Well, since the recording is impossible to obtain, perhaps unobtrusive electronic distribution is called for.  Extracting files from a CD is easy, but I'm not familiar enough with such practices to know where such rather large files can be tucked away.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: sTisTi on May 06, 2010, 06:48:06 AM
Well, since the recording is impossible to obtain, perhaps unobtrusive electronic distribution is called for.  Extracting files from a CD is easy, but I'm not familiar enough with such practices to know where such rather large files can be tucked away.
Mediafire.com is a possibility, though if you want to share the content of a CD in a lossless compression format (e.g. FLAC, ALAC), you'd better have a fast internet connection for the upload as a full CD typically takes up ~250-350 MB ;)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Luke on May 06, 2010, 10:10:42 AM
Compared to Elgar's other orchestral works the Cello Concerto sounds thin. It's composed for smaller orchestra (lack of players just after the war). I find the Violin Concerto more complex structurally than the Cello Concerto. Superb concerto nevertheless.  ;)


Just FWIW it's not really composed for a smaller orchestra - apart from the lack of a double bassoon in the later work the orchestras called for are identical. The orchestras of Europe may have been depleted after the war, true, but that fact doesn't find itself reflected in the instrumentarium of the cello concerto.

One could perhaps argue that the intimacy of the cello concerto might mean it doesn't require so many string players - but a) the scores themselves don't tell us this and b) I don't really think it's true anyway - in its relatively few fully-scored passages the cello concerto makes just as big a noise as the violin concerto.

No, the thinness of the cello concerto, if it is to be called that, is above all just superb scoring, Elgar showing that he knew how to hold things back to allow the cello through to the top of the texture. This affects the tone of the work, of course, intensifies that lonely, pensive soundworld which this concerto makes so much its own.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on May 06, 2010, 11:25:20 AM
Znajder landed by me yesterday, will give it a listen a bit later.
I hovered for some time trying to choose between Znaider and Zehetmair before plumping for the latter, so I hope you're going to tell me that I don't need to buy that one, Karl....

I betcha a million pounds you'll enjoy the Kang.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on May 06, 2010, 11:31:59 AM
Quoted with corrections:

I just listened to it via Naxos streaming and liked it quite a bit...better, in fact, than any other I've heard--but bear in mind that thanks to Alan's impassioned but civil and thoughtful advocacy persistent brainwashing, I've listened to this concerto more in the past few days than in the previous few years, and it's likely that increased familiarity my need to do anything to make him stop is opening my heart to it more than before.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Drasko on May 06, 2010, 11:55:46 AM
Well, since the recording is impossible to obtain, perhaps unobtrusive electronic distribution is called for.  Extracting files from a CD is easy, but I'm not familiar enough with such practices to know where such rather large files can be tucked away.

Why would anyone bother when there is about 99% chance that some blogger-pirate has already been there, done that. Took me about two minutes to find this one for instance:
http://organ-music-for-all.blogspot.com/2009/03/edward-elgar-collectors-edition-30cd_28.html
Disc 6 looks like what you've been looking for.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: drogulus on May 06, 2010, 12:40:45 PM
Mediafire.com is a possibility, though if you want to share the content of a CD in a lossless compression format (e.g. FLAC, ALAC), you'd better have a fast internet connection for the upload as a full CD typically takes up ~250-350 MB ;)


      If "someone" wanted to post a zip file without breaking it up Google Docs would be the place. The zip could contain tagged lossless files of the CD in question. Google allows up to 1 GB total which can be used for a single file.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on May 06, 2010, 01:00:25 PM
      If "someone" wanted to post a zip file without breaking it up Google Docs would be the place. The zip could contain tagged lossless files of the CD in question. Google allows up to 1 GB total which can be used for a single file.

Well, it seems there is no need, since it is already available via the link cited above.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: drogulus on May 06, 2010, 01:41:20 PM
Well, it seems there is no need, since it is already available via the link cited above.


      I was just scheming out loud. What's the point of life if you can't help people? (http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/Smileys/classic/evil.gif)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: DavidRoss on May 06, 2010, 02:27:15 PM
Quoted with corrections:
I just listened to it via Naxos streaming and liked it quite a bit...better, in fact, than any other I've heard--but bear in mind that thanks to Alan's impassioned but civil and thoughtful advocacy persistent brainwashing, I've listened to this concerto more in the past few days than in the previous few years, and it's likely that increased familiarity my need to do anything to make him stop is opening my heart to it more than before.
;D ;D ;D

Although your edits are amusing, Alan, I think the original more accurate.   8)  BTW, I enjoyed the Kang/Leaper recording so much that I just ordered the CD.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: kishnevi on May 06, 2010, 04:49:41 PM
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/511mWJkXnLL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)

My copy of the Elder/Halle/Zehetmair recording arrived today. I decided to try this partly because of the favourable reviews, but also because of the unusual couplings (bits from Kingdom and Gerontius, with Alice Coote doing the Angel's Farewell. Listening to the whole CD, with the VC sandwiched in this way was quite interesting!


Would I be correct in assuming the Gerontius excerpt  is from the Elder/Halle recording of the complete Gerontius,  in which Coote sings the Angel?
(Recording dates for the Gerontius are given as 15-19 July 2008, if that is needed to clinch the deal).
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Sergeant Rock on May 07, 2010, 12:40:20 AM
Would I be correct in assuming the Gerontius excerpt  is from the Elder/Halle recording of the complete Gerontius,  in which Coote sings the Angel?
(Recording dates for the Gerontius are given as 15-19 July 2008, if that is needed to clinch the deal).

Those are the recording dates given on Elder's Gerontius CD. Whether they are the same takes, I don't know but I assume they are.

Sarge
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on May 07, 2010, 07:23:07 AM
Would I be correct in assuming the Gerontius excerpt  is from the Elder/Halle recording of the complete Gerontius,  in which Coote sings the Angel?
(Recording dates for the Gerontius are given as 15-19 July 2008, if that is needed to clinch the deal).
Sarge is right - the dates are the same. I haven't compared them directly, but I assume they're the same recordings. The Kingdom prelude seems to be from a much earlier session, recorded 23 March 2005.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on May 07, 2010, 10:01:51 AM
Just FWIW it's not really composed for a smaller orchestra - apart from the lack of a double bassoon in the later work the orchestras called for are identical. The orchestras of Europe may have been depleted after the war, true, but that fact doesn't find itself reflected in the instrumentarium of the cello concerto.

One could perhaps argue that the intimacy of the cello concerto might mean it doesn't require so many string players - but a) the scores themselves don't tell us this and b) I don't really think it's true anyway - in its relatively few fully-scored passages the cello concerto makes just as big a noise as the violin concerto.

No, the thinness of the cello concerto, if it is to be called that, is above all just superb scoring, Elgar showing that he knew how to hold things back to allow the cello through to the top of the texture. This affects the tone of the work, of course, intensifies that lonely, pensive soundworld which this concerto makes so much its own.

Ok, thanks for the correction. I must have misundertood something I read about this somewhere years ago. Maybe it is the recorded sound of the first version I heard (Kliegel/Naxos) that created my fixation of thin sound? Maybe other version  haven't corrected this in my mind? Don't know...
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on May 07, 2010, 11:01:37 AM
I enjoyed the Kang/Leaper recording so much that I just ordered the CD.
One more small step towards insolvency, Dave, but it's a great way to go and I'm proud to have helped you on your way!
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: abidoful on May 12, 2010, 05:30:03 AM
I always have had  kind of a mixed feelings about Elgar- he seemed little lame though I was familiar with the  CELLO CONCERTO and I loved it when I heard it in played in the movie about Jacqueline DuPre. Then I heard some orchestral songs and they sounded beautiful. :)
Only now I'm really exploring him. I don't know he's symphonies yet, I only listened the VIOLIN CONCERTO yesterday and it seemed very powerful. :o  I hear something similar in him and the american MacDowell; emotional but kind of masculine, not hysterical like Tchaikowsky.

And yes, SALUT' D AMOUR is absolutely charming- as is the 1st POMPOUS MARCH :-*

Maybe such comments like Sibelius's ("Elgar managed to write wonderful music page after page after which he come to introduce something commonplace and trivial") have influenced to my lack of interest..  ::)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on May 12, 2010, 09:48:43 AM
Maybe such comments like Sibelius's ("Elgar managed to write wonderful music page after page after which he come to introduce something commonplace and trivial") have influenced to my lack of interest..  ::)

Make your own evaluation of Elgar.  ;) 
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on May 12, 2010, 11:24:25 AM
Maybe such comments like Sibelius's ("Elgar managed to write wonderful music page after page after which he come to introduce something commonplace and trivial") have influenced to my lack of interest..  ::)

If you restrict yourself to composers who were never ridiculed by other composers you will listen to nothing.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: abidoful on May 12, 2010, 11:51:01 AM
If you restrict yourself to composers who were never ridiculed by other composers you will listen to nothing.
True---
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: abidoful on May 12, 2010, 11:53:49 AM
Make your own evaluation of Elgar.  ;)

Thank's,  I really want to- I'm interested!! :)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on May 13, 2010, 11:58:26 AM
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51MD%2B5ijGQL._SS400_.jpg)


Elgar's Violin Sonata

Karl mentioned the violin sonata a while back, and we both thought it was high time to talk about it, so here goes. My approach, as ever with Elgar, is to start with the biography because so often the life informs the work to a considerable degree.

Anyone who compares Elgar's music pre-1914, and post-1914, is going to notice an enormous difference. The War knocked the stuffing out of him, and inflicted serious damage on his dreams of nobility, brotherhood, and the chivalric ideal. His music written specifically for the War culminates in 1917 with the completion of one of his greatest and most (incomprehensibly) neglected works: The Spirit of England - effectively Elgar's Requiem for those who died in the war.

Afterwards he sought refuge in a Sussex cottage, 'Brinkwells', in the heart of woodland, accessible only with difficulty, and offering quite a spartan existence. Something about the surrounding woodland inspired him to embark on his series of chamber works: the violin sonata, the piano quintet, the string quartet (and also of course the non-chamber cello concerto). Quite a lot of biographical material relates to the violin sonata. Alice Elgar recorded in her diary that Elgar was beginning to write a very different kind of music: 'wood magic', she called it. We know that quite apart from his love of the woodland, he was haunted by a particular group of rather sinister trees that are said to have influenced the music he was writing. So one thing we might expect from this music is a new kind of Elgarian pastoralism

But wait. In August 1918, Alice Stuart Wortley (the Windflower) came to visit the cottage. After she left he started work on the Sonata. The opening of the first movement is vigorous and (one might say) masculine in character - but then comes an entirely typical Elgarian moment at about 1 minute in, with the introduction of a lovely 'feminine' second theme. I don't want to get absurdly literalist, but to my ears that theme has 'Windflower' written all over it, as vividly as if he'd carved it into the barks of the trees in the wood.

He'd just begun work on the 2nd (slow) movement when he heard that the Windflower had had an accident and broken her leg, and I don't think it's too fanciful to suppose that the change in tone of the second movement that occurs at about 2m30s, where the 'wood magic' gives way to what is surely one of his loveliest, most heart-aching melodies, may be related to that, and to his feelings for the Windflower and all that she represented, remembered here in his mysterious woodland.

Then Billy Reed came to stay, bringing his violin. He recalls:
'the Violin Sonata was well advanced. All the first movement was written, half the second - he finished this ... while I was there - and the opening section of the Finale. We used to play up to the blank page and then he would say, 'And then what?' - and we would go out to explore the wood or fish in the River Arun.'

The importance of that lovely tune from the second movement is emphasised by the fact that the very same theme reappears in the last two minutes of the final movement, bringing a kind of solace (or is it just a diffferent kind of loss and heartbreak?) to the restless, fretful, and sometimes anguished searching of the previous 6 minutes.

So in the background to the sonata we have the Windflower; we have woodland, and Elgar's love of it; we have a group of haunted trees; and we have all these set against a sense of loss and profound sadness resulting from the horrors of the war. I hope it's obvious that I'm not saying the violin sonata was composed according to some sort of programme; not that; rather, that when I listen to it, and find myself feeling that familiar Elgarian sense of longing for something unreachable and feminine, or imagining light dappling through leaves and branches, or feeling strangely haunted by a sense of almost intolerable loss - then none of these things is very surprising.

If I could only have one recording of the violin sonata, then I'd ask for mercy and plead for two. I'd want Hugh Bean's, with David Parkhouse, but that's not a helpful recommendation because all the copies in the world have recently been bought up by GMG members wanting to get his recording of the violin concerto. But no matter. If I could really and truly only have one, then it would be Lydia Mordkovitch with Julian Milford (see picture above). It takes your heart and squeezes it dry, and then wrings it again. The good news is that unlike the Bean, this is still obtainable, here:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Elgar-Sospiri-Music-Violin-Piano/dp/B000005Z6Y/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1273783814&sr=1-1 (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Elgar-Sospiri-Music-Violin-Piano/dp/B000005Z6Y/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1273783814&sr=1-1)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: abidoful on May 13, 2010, 08:52:07 PM
Anyone who compares Elgar's music pre-1914, and post-1914, is going to notice an enormous difference. The War knocked the stuffing out of him, and inflicted serious damage on his dreams of nobility, brotherhood, and the chivalric ideal. His music written specifically for the War culminates in 1917 with the completion of one of his greatest and most (incomprehensibly) neglected works: The Spirit of England - effectively Elgar's Requiem for those who died in the war.

Afterwards he sought refuge in a Sussex cottage, 'Brinkwells', in the heart of woodland, accessible only with difficulty, and offering quite a spartan existence. Something about the surrounding woodland inspired him to embark on his series of chamber works: the violin sonata, the piano quintet, the string quartet (and also of course the non-chamber cello concerto). Quite a lot of biographical material relates to the violin sonata. Alice Elgar recorded in her diary that Elgar was beginning to write a very different kind of music: 'wood magic', she called it. We know that quite apart from his love of the woodland, he was haunted by a particular group of rather sinister trees that are said to have influenced the music he was writing. So one thing we might expect from this music is a new kind of Elgarian pastoralism

But wait. In August 1918, Alice Stuart Wortley (the Windflower) came to visit the cottage. After she left he started work on the Sonata. The opening of the first movement is vigorous and (one might say) masculine in character - but then comes an entirely typical Elgarian moment at about 1 minute in, with the introduction of a lovely 'feminine' second theme. I don't want to get absurdly literalist, but to my ears that theme has 'Windflower' written all over it, as vividly as if he'd carved it into the barks of the trees in the wood.

He'd just begun work on the 2nd (slow) movement when he heard that the Windflower had had an accident and broken her leg, and I don't think it's too fanciful to suppose that the change in tone of the second movement that occurs at about 2m30s, where the 'wood magic' gives way to what is surely one of his loveliest, most heart-aching melodies, may be related to that, and to his feelings for the Windflower and all that she represented, remembered here in his mysterious woodland.

Then Billy Reed came to stay, bringing his violin. He recalls:
'the Violin Sonata was well advanced. All the first movement was written, half the second - he finished this ... while I was there - and the opening section of the Finale. We used to play up to the blank page and then he would say, 'And then what?' - and we would go out to explore the wood or fish in the River Arun.'

The importance of that lovely tune from the second movement is emphasised by the fact that the very same theme reappears in the last two minutes of the final movement, bringing a kind of solace (or is it just a diffferent kind of loss and heartbreak?) to the restless, fretful, and sometimes anguished searching of the previous 6 minutes.

So in the background to the sonata we have the Windflower; we have woodland, and Elgar's love of it; we have a group of haunted trees; and we have all these set against a sense of loss and profound sadness resulting from the horrors of the war. I hope it's obvious that I'm not saying the violin sonata was composed according to some sort of programme; not that; rather, that when I listen to it, and find myself feeling that familiar Elgarian sense of longing for something unreachable and feminine, or imagining light dappling through leaves and branches, or feeling strangely haunted by a sense of almost intolerable loss - then none of these things is very surprising.

So very enjoyable reading this- written with an insight :)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on May 14, 2010, 12:04:00 AM
I didn't have time yesterday, but thought I'd say more about specific recordings of the violin sonata. I have five altogether, and my feeling is that one wouldn't actually be unhappy with any of them. I should add that much of what I say below takes for granted a lot of what I said above, in #791, and if you skipped that, then much of what I say below won't make sense.

First up is the Nash Ensemble (Marcia Crayford and Ian Brown):

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/61d3%2Bu7t8-L._SL500_AA300_.jpg)

The real test, for me, is how the transitions to (what I think of as) the 'Windflowery' bits are managed in each movement, and this does very well - meltingly well, in fact, with very sensitive responses to the mood shifts. A lovely recording, and well worth having.


Then there's this one, with Marat Bisengaliev and Benjamin Frith:

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/414NBM4C74L._SL500_AA300_.jpg)

This seems to be recorded in a more reverberative acoustic, and Bisengaliev's violin has a more wiry tone. When it begins I find myself squirming a bit, because it isn't quite how I expect Elgar to sound; and he doesn't quite (to my ears) get the transition delicate enough when the feminine second theme appears. But in fact as the piece develops and the tone becomes more familiar, this interpretation starts to acquire its own authority - always just a touch more severe, with the soft, melting moments less indulged in. Even so, it's probably my least favourite version, and I feel as if he doesn't understand Elgar quite well enough - but of course that could just be me being a bit stick-in-the-mud. His wiry sound is very effective at conveying what I like to think of as a 'sinister trees' image in the restless and slightly spooky moments towards the end of the final movement, just before the reappearance of the gorgeous second movement theme.


Then there's Simone Lamsma with Yurie Miura:

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51nZbiYLLBL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)

Lamsma is a young Dutch violinist who won an award which gave her the opportunity to make a recording, and (quite astonishingly) she chose to record a CD entirely made up of Elgar's works. Her approach to the violin sonata isn't totally convincing, on one level: for example, the appearance of the second theme in the first movement is too boldly stated in my view. She does better with the 'Windflowery' mood change in the second movement, but overall, there doesn't seem to be quite the delicacy that I expect, when delicacy is called for. Even so, I'm actually rather fond of this recording. There's a youthful freshness about it that to some degree makes up for the missing depth, and she so obviously loves the music she's playing even if expressing the full range of it is sometimes beyond her grasp. Not a first choice, then, but not to be dismissed either.


I must mention Hugh Bean/David Parkhouse, even though it's hard to get hold of:

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/413Y51QSRRL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)

This was the version I grew up with, and for many years was all I had. I'm past knowing how it relates to the other versions I've mentioned because it's so familiar. Bean understands Elgar - full stop - and if I'd never heard Lydia Mordkovitch this would probably be my top recommendation, with the Nash Ensemble as an equally fine alternative. At the close of the final movement, the way he moves from the 'spooky trees' to the reappearance of the second movement theme, shifting from vague unease to heartbreak in the space of 30 seconds, is simply wonderful.


But when all is said, this is The One, for me:

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51MD%2B5ijGQL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)

There isn't a false touch; the range from anxious unease to piercing insight, from masculine assertion to feminine compliance, from moments of hope, to moments of hope dashed - it's all here in this recording. Exquisite playing, with wonderfully sensitive piano. A desert island choice.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Sergeant Rock on May 14, 2010, 01:32:49 AM
Elgarian, thanks for the your insightful posts about the Violin Sonata. I'm listening to, and comparing my two versions today: Bean/Parkhouse and Kennedy/Pettinger.

(http://photos.imageevent.com/sgtrock/feb2010/ElgarVSonKen.jpg)

Even before playing them I noticed a major difference between Kennedy and Bean (and Mordkovitch, too, if the timings are listed accurately at amazon.co.uk): Kennedy is much slower in the second movement, almost two minutes slower. Bean and Mordkovitch's timings for all three movements are nearly identical!

Kennedy         8:00  9:42  9:24
Bean               8:07  8:01  9:11
Mordkovitch    8:06  8:06  8:59

Based on several reviews I read yesterday, I decided to order Hope/Mulligan (Elgar coupled with Walton and Finzi, two works I don't own). Hope supposedly contrasts the first and second themes in the first movement in a very extreme way. Sounds interesting. Despite your persuasive argument in favor of Mordkovitch, I wonder if her performance isn't dissimilar enough to Bean, making it redundant in a modest collection of the Sonata?

Sarge
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on May 14, 2010, 01:57:09 AM
Despite your persuasive argument in favor of Mordkovitch, I wonder if her performance isn't dissimilar enough to Bean, making it redundant in a modest collection of the Sonata?
What an interesting thing to say. Now, I don't find this (though my collection is a modest one). I feel Mordkovitch reaches a level of nuance and fluidity that Bean doesn't quite manage (much though I love his performance). If Bean offers a 10 Kleenex tissue weep-coefficient in the sad bits, Mordkovitch takes me to 12 or 15. I've never directly compared them in detail, but I'll do so and try to come back with specific examples of the differences that seem important (if I can identify them accurately enough, that is).
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on May 14, 2010, 02:11:32 AM
Many thanks, Alan.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Sergeant Rock on May 14, 2010, 02:23:22 AM
What an interesting thing to say.

My statement deliberately ended in a question mark--hoping you could answer it. I based it on the nearly identical timings (although I realize that doesn't tell you very much about the individual performance) and the fact they are your favorites, making me think they may be more similar in intent and execution than not. If you have the time to elaborate on the differences, I'd appreciate it.

Sarge
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Lethevich on May 14, 2010, 02:29:47 AM
Another thanks for your post on the violin sonata, Elgarian - I love the way that some small works which might otherwise pass me by without much incident can become so much richer when somebody who has listened closely and can successfully articulate their thoughts is able to write a little guide to the piece as you have done here.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: abidoful on May 14, 2010, 02:48:09 AM
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/413Y51QSRRL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)

I become aware of the Elgar CONCERT ALLEGRO only few days ago and got really interested- I didn't find it on YouTube and for this work alone I would consider this disc. Apart from the chamber works and songs, I believe Elgar didn't write much for piano? Being a pianist myself, I wonder has it been published? It was something like opus 46???
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: drogulus on May 14, 2010, 03:08:50 AM
 
     The Bean version of the Sonata is the only one I've heard, and from my listening the last couple of days (interspersed with 2 cycles of Nielsen symphonies) I would not feel deprived with just this one.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on May 14, 2010, 05:48:24 AM
My statement deliberately ended in a question mark--hoping you could answer it. I based it on the nearly identical timings (although I realize that doesn't tell you very much about the individual performance) and the fact they are your favorites, making me think they may be more similar in intent and execution than not. If you have the time to elaborate on the differences, I'd appreciate it.
Worth pointing out that my two favourite recordings of the violin concerto are like chalk and cheese (Bean and Kang), so it doesn't follow that I'm necessarily going for 'more of the same' (though sometimes, I do!)

OK. Here goes. Bean v Mordkovitch. The first minute of the first movement says it all, in a way. Bean is marvellous, full of attack, almost aggressive. But Mordkovitch sounds completely different. Her tone is different, but I can't find words to fit - it's like comparing fine and coarse sandpaper, perhaps. She makes Bean sound as if he's lacking in finesse, more monodimensional in character. Her attack in the first minute is just as powerful as his, but it's like quicksilver, rising and falling in waves, with faster shifts of tone and pace. I get the impression she's actually playing faster than Bean (and checking the timings, I see that indeed she is, by a second or two when completing that first section. Bean is wonderful, but Mordkovitch makes him seem rather plodding by comparison.

This tendency carries on right through into the introduction of the second theme, where she seems to find nuances that Bean misses. For instance, you know how there's a long sustained high note starting at about 1m43s in Bean, and continuing for about 5 seconds? It's a lovely moment, poised somewhere between happiness and pain. Well, when Mordkovitch plays that, she seems to touch some sort of ethereal realm, where the note begins with exquisite delicacy and then fades with equal tenderness at the end. Her playing reminds me of those drawings by Rossetti of Elizabeth Siddal, where the pencil work rises from the page so delicately that you can't tell where the paper/pencil boundary is.

Again, towards the end of the last movement, Bean gives us what I call the spooky trees feeling starting at about 6m15s, then slides into the reappearance of the lovely 'Windflowerish' melody at 6m55s, and it's so very beautiful and moving; but when Mordkovitch plays that I almost get the impression that she's going to come to a halt at the end of the spooky trees, and maybe this time there'll be no reprieve ... then slowly, faintly, the lovely tune appears, like something forgotten and only now remembered. Again, Bean seems monodimensional by comparison. There's a kind of inevitability about where he's going, whereas Mordkovitch is full of uncertainty. Bean gives us plain speaking - beautiful, deeply felt plain speaking, while Mordkovitch is continually hesitant, trembling on the edge, lower lip quivering.

I don't have the necessary command of technicalities to do better than this I'm afraid, and as I read it through again it all seems like an inadequate description of the differences I'm hearing, but it's the best I can do. The differences seem bigger and more obvious when I'm listening, than they do when I'm reading what I've written!
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Sergeant Rock on May 14, 2010, 06:19:06 AM
Worth pointing out that my two favourite recordings of the violin concerto are like chalk and cheese (Bean and Kang), so it doesn't follow that I'm necessarily going for 'more of the same' (though sometimes, I do!)

Yes, I thought of that shortly after I posted my message but decided to let it stand just to prod you into replying  ;)

Quote
I don't have the necessary command of technicalities to do better than this I'm afraid, and as I read it through again it all seems like an inadequate description of the differences I'm hearing, but it's the best I can do.

You gave me exactly what I was after, thanks. I can use your description of Bean to compare with Kennedy, keeping in mind your description of how Mordkovitch handles the same passage. Hope/Mulligan is on the way (just received an email confirmation).

I should just accept your verdict about Mordkovitch since you were right about Bean's performance of the concerto. I've listened to it twice (and the candenza several more times) and it is special. It's worth the price just for the first entrance of the violin. I'm not ready to say I prefer it overall to Chung or Kennedy but I'm leaning that way. I'll have more to say after I've listened to Kang.

Sarge
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on May 14, 2010, 07:45:09 AM
Oh dear, I'm trying to resist the temptation to begin "collecting" recordings of this piece without even hearing it once!   ???
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on May 14, 2010, 07:46:29 AM
I can use your description of Bean to compare with Kennedy, keeping in mind your description of how Mordkovitch handles the same passage. Hope/Mulligan is on the way (just received an email confirmation).
The nice thing here is that between us we have Bean as a common and admired reference against which to compare the others. I'll be glad to hear what you think about the Hope/Mulligan (I haven't heard Kennedy).
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on May 14, 2010, 07:54:42 AM
Oh dear, I'm trying to resist the temptation to begin "collecting" recordings of this piece without even hearing it once!   ???
You do have Bean though, don't you? (On the 2CD set with the violin concerto.) So at least you're starting with a good 'un.

And we haven't started on the string quartet and the piano quintet yet ....
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Sergeant Rock on May 14, 2010, 07:59:30 AM
Oh dear, I'm trying to resist the temptation to begin "collecting" recordings of this piece without even hearing it once!   ???

RESISTANCE IS FUTILE!!!

 ;D :D ;D


Sarge
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on May 14, 2010, 08:11:30 AM
But when all is said, this is The One, for me:

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51MD%2B5ijGQL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)

There isn't a false touch; the range from anxious unease to piercing insight, from masculine assertion to feminine compliance, from moments of hope, to moments of hope dashed - it's all here in this recording. Exquisite playing, with wonderfully sensitive piano. A desert island choice.

That's my favorite too but I only have 2 recording of the work, Marat Bisengaliev/Benjamin Frith being the other one.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: secondwind on May 14, 2010, 08:15:36 AM
Oh dear, I'm trying to resist the temptation to begin "collecting" recordings of this piece without even hearing it once!   ???
:P :P :P :P :P Why?
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on May 14, 2010, 08:29:04 AM
I become aware of the Elgar CONCERT ALLEGRO only few days ago and got really interested- I didn't find it on YouTube and for this work alone I would consider this disc. Apart from the chamber works and songs, I believe Elgar didn't write much for piano? Being a pianist myself, I wonder has it been published? It was something like opus 46???

Concert Allegro, Op. 46 is Elgar's best piano works but his other works for piano are nice too. I have these recordings of piano Elgar:

Maria Garzón (ASV) - Enigma Variations (original piano version), Concert Allegro etc.
David Owen Norris (Elgar Editions) - Vol 1 Solo Piano Music
Peter Pettinger (Chandos) -  Piano Music including Concert Allegro
Ashley Wass (Naxos) - Piano Music including Enigma Variations (original piano version)

The last two together give broad coveridge of Elgar's piano works.  ;)

If forced to choose only one, Pettinger would be my choice.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on May 14, 2010, 08:42:24 AM
Oh dear, I'm trying to resist the temptation to begin "collecting" recordings of this piece without even hearing it once!   ???

Worth it in the case of the Elgar Vn Sonata.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on May 14, 2010, 08:43:31 AM
You do have Bean though, don't you? (On the 2CD set with the violin concerto.) So at least you're starting with a good 'un.

I think we should have a moratorium on even mention of Bean as long as the recording is unavailable ; )
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on May 14, 2010, 10:10:43 AM
You do have Bean though, don't you? (On the 2CD set with the violin concerto.) So at least you're starting with a good 'un.

And we haven't started on the string quartet and the piano quintet yet ....

I have the 2CD set featuring bean on the violin concerto and sonata, which also contains recordings of other chamber pieces.  I have independent recordings of the string quartet and piano quintet, but I seem to have only the Bean for the sonata.  For a significant piece I like to have more than one option. 
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on May 14, 2010, 10:11:59 AM
I think we should have a moratorium on even mention of Bean as long as the recording is unavailable ; )

Maybe a transcription for clarinet and piano is in order?   8)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on May 14, 2010, 10:38:07 AM
I think we should have a moratorium on even mention of Bean as long as the recording is unavailable ; )
You mean ... he's a has-bean?
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Sergeant Rock on May 14, 2010, 12:40:06 PM
For a significant piece I like to have more than one option.

Me too. And Elgar's sonata has become a significant piece.  Whether you'll respond to it as I have...well, let us know  ;)

Sarge
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Sergeant Rock on May 14, 2010, 12:40:39 PM
You mean ... he's a has-bean?

 ;D :D ;D
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: drogulus on May 14, 2010, 01:20:21 PM
     
     (http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/413Y51QSRRL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)

     According to the EMI Classics site this is still available, and Amazon UK says only Temporarily OOS. Also you can go to the Elgar Foundation site and order it for £9.99.

     I decided not to wait, though I'm still buying the CD if it really is available.

     
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Sergeant Rock on May 14, 2010, 01:40:36 PM
     
     (http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/413Y51QSRRL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)

     According to the EMI Classics site this is still available, and Amazon UK says only Temporarily OOS. Also you can go to the Elgar Foundation site and order it for £9.99.

     I decided not to wait, though I'm still buying the CD if it really is available.

   

The performance of the Concerto by Bean really is incredible (and I should mention Groves' contribution, which is significant, and as passionate as Solti's)...a performance all Elgarians should hear. At this point I still prefer Kennedy in the Sonata but I haven't done a serious bar by bar comparison yet.

Sarge
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on May 14, 2010, 02:01:05 PM
Worth pointing out that my two favourite recordings of the violin concerto are like chalk and cheese (Bean and Kang), so it doesn't follow that I'm necessarily going for 'more of the same' (though sometimes, I do!)

OK. Here goes. Bean v Mordkovitch. The first minute of the first movement says it all, in a way. Bean is marvellous, full of attack, almost aggressive. But Mordkovitch sounds completely different. Her tone is different, but I can't find words to fit - it's like comparing fine and coarse sandpaper, perhaps. She makes Bean sound as if he's lacking in finesse, more monodimensional in character. Her attack in the first minute is just as powerful as his, but it's like quicksilver, rising and falling in waves, with faster shifts of tone and pace. I get the impression she's actually playing faster than Bean (and checking the timings, I see that indeed she is, by a second or two when completing that first section. Bean is wonderful, but Mordkovitch makes him seem rather plodding by comparison.

This tendency carries on right through into the introduction of the second theme, where she seems to find nuances that Bean misses. For instance, you know how there's a long sustained high note starting at about 1m43s in Bean, and continuing for about 5 seconds? It's a lovely moment, poised somewhere between happiness and pain. Well, when Mordkovitch plays that, she seems to touch some sort of ethereal realm, where the note begins with exquisite delicacy and then fades with equal tenderness at the end. Her playing reminds me of those drawings by Rossetti of Elizabeth Siddal, where the pencil work rises from the page so delicately that you can't tell where the paper/pencil boundary is.

Again, towards the end of the last movement, Bean gives us what I call the spooky trees feeling starting at about 6m15s, then slides into the reappearance of the lovely 'Windflowerish' melody at 6m55s, and it's so very beautiful and moving; but when Mordkovitch plays that I almost get the impression that she's going to come to a halt at the end of the spooky trees, and maybe this time there'll be no reprieve ... then slowly, faintly, the lovely tune appears, like something forgotten and only now remembered. Again, Bean seems monodimensional by comparison. There's a kind of inevitability about where he's going, whereas Mordkovitch is full of uncertainty. Bean gives us plain speaking - beautiful, deeply felt plain speaking, while Mordkovitch is continually hesitant, trembling on the edge, lower lip quivering.

I don't have the necessary command of technicalities to do better than this I'm afraid, and as I read it through again it all seems like an inadequate description of the differences I'm hearing, but it's the best I can do. The differences seem bigger and more obvious when I'm listening, than they do when I'm reading what I've written!

Your level of focus and concentration on these works is truly awe inspiring.  Recently I tend to listen to a lot of new music but don't find I have the time to become so familiar with any one piece, which perhaps is a shame.   Recently I've become interested in the Shostakovich Viola sonata, for instance, but couldn't say anything nearly so rich and specific about it. 
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: drogulus on May 14, 2010, 02:16:09 PM
The performance of the Concerto by Bean really is incredible (and I should mention Groves' contribution, which is significant, and as passionate as Solti's)...a performance all Elgarians should hear. At this point I still prefer Kennedy in the Sonata but I haven't done a serious bar by bar comparison yet.

Sarge

    Kennedy has an edge at the level of technique, which shows itself during the most difficult passages where Bean plays them slower. Yet the first movement is faster in Bean/Groves. All of the movements are, in fact. I noticed it immediately, probably because this was what I expected.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Sergeant Rock on May 14, 2010, 02:21:48 PM
    Kennedy has an edge at the level of technique, which shows itself during the most difficult passages where Bean plays them slower. Yet the first movement is faster in Bean/Groves. I noticed it immediately, probably because this was what I expected.

You're right of course. I think, technically, Kennedy is the superior fiddler. Whether he's more in tune with Elgar...well, that's the question I'm trying to resolve. Right now, it seems to me, a Korean woman wins the gold. But I have more listening to do.

Sarge
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on May 14, 2010, 02:22:03 PM
    Kennedy has an edge at the level of technique, which shows itself during the most difficult passages where Bean plays them slower.

My impression is that Kennedy makes his technical strength into a weakness, by letting it overshadow the expressive aspects of what he is playing.

You're right of course. I think, technically, Kennedy is the superior fiddler. Whether he's more in tune with Elgar...well, that's the question I'm trying to resolve. Right now, it seems to me, a Korean woman wins the gold. But I have more listening to do.

Sarge

She is good, and Solti doesn't hurt.  A little more sensitivity, compared with his recording of the symphonies.

Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Sergeant Rock on May 14, 2010, 02:28:08 PM
My impression is that Kennedy makes his technical strength into a weakness, by letting it overshadow the expressive aspects of what he is playing.

I don't agree, in either his performance of the Concerto or Sonata...but then, that's why classical music is so fun..it provokes such intense disagreement  ;D

Quote
She is good, and Solti doesn't hurt.  A little more sensitivity, compared with his recording of the symphonies.

But it is nice, too, to agree on occasion  :)

Sarge
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: drogulus on May 14, 2010, 03:39:10 PM
My impression is that Kennedy makes his technical strength into a weakness, by letting it overshadow the expressive aspects of what he is playing.


     I don't agree, either. Not in the case of the Handley recording. I haven't heard the Rattle in too long to comment on it. It isn't even ripped yet. Oh...now it is.

     Both Bean and Kennedy would have been influenced by the example of Menuhin, I imagine. So I should explore that connection.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Sergeant Rock on May 14, 2010, 03:49:26 PM
Both Bean and Kennedy would have been influenced by the example of Menuhin, I imagine. So I should explore that connection.

Of course! The Menuhin connection. I should get his recordings too.

Sarge
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: drogulus on May 14, 2010, 05:55:53 PM
      (http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/4136Q8DB1TL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)

      This recording doesn't have the reputation of the 1929 recording Menuhin made when he was 16, with Elgar conducting. Still it should be interesting. I'd like to have the Delius, too.

       An odd note: On the Elgar recording above the concertmaster was Hugh Bean. And Nigel Kennedy attended Menuhin's school. So maybe Oswald wasn't the lone gunman after all.  (http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/Smileys/classic/cool.gif)
       
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on May 14, 2010, 11:22:50 PM
My impression is that Kennedy makes his technical strength into a weakness, by letting it overshadow the expressive aspects of what he is playing.
That's the flavour of my reaction to Kennedy's Elgar VC too, though I'm inclined to think that when I say that, I'm describing the kind of feelings I get, rather than responding to a genuine weakness of his. In other words, in broad terms I'm looking for a particular kind of approach (partly consciously and partly subconsciously), which Kennedy doesn't offer (he offers something else instead); and so to me it seems that he overdoes the technical fireworks aspect. If I'm wanting an apple and they give me an orange, I might get irritated by that, but it doesn't necessarily mean there's something wrong with the orange.

I'm encountering a similar problem with Hahn's version of the Elgar VC right now, having had the opportunity to listen to it yesterday. She definitely doesn't approach it in what I regard as 'the right spirit', but I'm not sure yet whether the problem lies with her playing or with my expectations.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on May 14, 2010, 11:50:16 PM
      (http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/4136Q8DB1TL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)

      This recording doesn't have the reputation of the 1929 recording Menuhin made when he was 16, with Elgar conducting. Still it should be interesting.

There are very favourable old Gramophone reviews of it here:

http://www.gramophone.net/Issue/Page/April%201966/45/792739/ELGAR.+Violin+Concerto+in+B+minor%2C+Op.+61.+Yehudi+Menuhin+%28violin%29%2C+New+Philharmonia+Orchestra+conducted+by+Sir+Adrian+Boult.+HMV (http://www.gramophone.net/Issue/Page/April%201966/45/792739/ELGAR.+Violin+Concerto+in+B+minor%2C+Op.+61.+Yehudi+Menuhin+%28violin%29%2C+New+Philharmonia+Orchestra+conducted+by+Sir+Adrian+Boult.+HMV)

and here:

http://www.gramophone.net/Issue/Page/May%201984/30/754912/ELGAR.+Violin+Concerto+in+B+minor%2C+Op.+61+Yehudi+e+Menuhin+%28yin%29+New+Philharmonia+Orches+tra++Sir+Adrian+Boult.+HMV+Concert+Classics (http://www.gramophone.net/Issue/Page/May%201984/30/754912/ELGAR.+Violin+Concerto+in+B+minor%2C+Op.+61+Yehudi+e+Menuhin+%28yin%29+New+Philharmonia+Orches+tra++Sir+Adrian+Boult.+HMV+Concert+Classics)

It's a lovely version, and no mistake; and listening to it a few days ago after a long period (years) of neglect, I was surprised to discover how very fine it is. It seems a lot more moving now than I thought it was, but of course all that's happened is that I have changed over the years. His cadenza really comes to grips with the broken-ness and heartache of the music, and Boult's control of the subtle but crucial orchestral accompaniment seems superb to these ears. It may be close to sacrilege to say it, but if the chips were down I'd choose this, Menuhin's later recording, with Boult, in preference to his classic recording with Elgar. (I just checked the Penguin Guide and discovered that they give it three stars and mark it out as a 'key' recording.)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: abidoful on May 15, 2010, 12:36:44 AM
Concert Allegro, Op. 46 is Elgar's best piano works but his other works for piano are nice too. I have these recordings of piano Elgar:

Maria Garzón (ASV) - Enigma Variations (original piano version), Concert Allegro etc.
David Owen Norris (Elgar Editions) - Vol 1 Solo Piano Music
Peter Pettinger (Chandos) -  Piano Music including Concert Allegro
Ashley Wass (Naxos) - Piano Music including Enigma Variations (original piano version)

The last two together give broad coveridge of Elgar's piano works.  ;)

If forced to choose only one, Pettinger would be my choice.

Thanks for recommending  :) Wating to take a plunge in to Sir Edward Elgar and finding some treasures...!
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: drogulus on May 15, 2010, 06:15:27 AM
That's the flavour of my reaction to Kennedy's Elgar VC too, though I'm inclined to think that when I say that, I'm describing the kind of feelings I get, rather than responding to a genuine weakness of his. In other words, in broad terms I'm looking for a particular kind of approach (partly consciously and partly subconsciously), which Kennedy doesn't offer (he offers something else instead); and so to me it seems that he overdoes the technical fireworks aspect. If I'm wanting an apple and they give me an orange, I might get irritated by that, but it doesn't necessarily mean there's something wrong with the orange.


      That sounds like me. (http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/Smileys/classic/shocked.gif)

      It seems like Kennedy employs his formidable skills to their fullest in this work and I think he should because the concerto calls for it. Bean gets the result he does from an understanding of Elgar (and a particular history of performance). This allows him to make up for what I see as a deficit in his abilities by comparison with a virtuoso like Kennedy, who is also operating from the same tradition and training. I might prefer Bean in the concerto, all things considered, but in spite of his relative weakness and not because of it. As it happens I'm delighted with the Bean version and my reasons are what I give here. He knows how to play this music correctly (as I'm bound to hear it, given what I've absorbed from and about Elgar's music). So does Kennedy, which makes comparison interesting and not exactly the usual contrast of approaches.

     It throws into relief an issue which may otherwise be obscured. I've given thought to this in another context due to my continued amazement at the recordings that Barbirolli made with the Hallé Orchestra. Many of these recordings seemed poised on a knife edge between brilliance and incompetence without stopping at ho-hum. The shorthand way of dealing with this is to say that feeling trumps technique. I'd say it can, but a little more technique would definitely be helpful.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on May 15, 2010, 06:49:06 AM
The shorthand way of dealing with this is to say that feeling trumps technique. I'd say it can, but a little more technique would definitely be helpful.
In this context, there's the nice little story I've quoted some few dozen posts ago, where Beatrice Harrison recalls Elgar saying to her before a performance of the cello concerto: 'Give it 'em, Beatrice. Don't worry about the notes or anything. Give 'em the spirit.'
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: drogulus on May 15, 2010, 07:15:32 AM
In this context, there's the nice little story I've quoted some few dozen posts ago, where Beatrice Harrison recalls Elgar saying to her before a performance of the cello concerto: 'Give it 'em, Beatrice. Don't worry about the notes or anything. Give 'em the spirit.'

     No, that was Ferneyhough, wasn't it? (http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/Smileys/classic/tongue.gif)


     Certainly given his druthers Elgar would want the spirit and the notes. It may take a bit of listening to arrive at the position that the more technically gifted artist (in this case Kennedy) does not lack the proper spirit, he just has technique to burn in a work that is clearly designed to burn as much as can be summoned.

     Aww, I don't even like concertos. That is, I have to overcome my disposition to hear the kinds of display concertos exhibit typically as plumage to attract an audience of ooh- and ahhh-ers, who are not like me at all! (http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/Smileys/classic/angel.gif)
     
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on May 19, 2010, 12:36:05 PM
Just received the recording of the Elgar cello concerto that was highly recommended by David Ross (although he seems to be on hiatus from the boards after a very nasty dust-up on our alter-ego board, CMG).

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/512MaZw4ZXL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)

I also have recordings of this concerto by Gastinel, du Pre, Navarro and Harrison.  (Amazing I have so many recordings and have never hear the piece!)  Can't decide whether to listen to this, or the violin sonata.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on May 19, 2010, 12:49:27 PM
Can't decide whether to listen to this, or the violin sonata.
You could take comfort in the fact that whichever you choose, you can't get it wrong.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: drogulus on May 20, 2010, 01:04:13 PM
     Lovers of the Bean performance of the Violin Sonata might want to hear the String Quartet recording made by Bean's Music Group of London. I'm just getting to know this work, but my initial reaction is very favorable.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on May 20, 2010, 10:21:04 PM
First listen was quite pleasant, particularly the first movement.

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51MD%2B5ijGQL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on May 21, 2010, 07:27:49 AM
First listen was quite pleasant, particularly the first movement.

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51MD%2B5ijGQL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)
Encouraging start! (Be prepared for layers and layers to become apparent, the more you listen.)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on May 21, 2010, 07:36:43 AM
     Lovers of the Bean performance of the Violin Sonata might want to hear the String Quartet recording made by Bean's Music Group of London. I'm just getting to know this work, but my initial reaction is very favorable.
All those chamber works represent Elgar at his best, in my view, and I agree, no one could go wrong with Bean's versions both of the violin sonata, and the quartet. The piano quintet is another superb work, but unfortunately I don't think there's a recording with Bean on it. At any rate, I've never encountered one.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Brahmsian on June 23, 2010, 09:09:21 AM
and the Ehnes/A. Davis in my hands now.

Hi Sarge,

Regarding the Ehnes recording of Elgar's VC, how did you like it?
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Sergeant Rock on June 24, 2010, 09:06:37 AM
Hi Sarge,

Regarding the Ehnes recording of Elgar's VC, how did you like it?

I listened twice, thought it sounded very close to Kennedy, which disappoimted me...not because I dislike Kennedy/Handley (I do, it remains one of my favorites) but because I was hoping for something different.

Sarge
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Mirror Image on June 27, 2010, 11:04:23 AM
I'm afraid I'm in trouble again.  Listened to the violin concerto through twice (Kennedy/Rattle).  I just don't get it.  Such a beautiful opening, such a haunting theme, such wonderful harmonies, such a wonderful Straussian flourish from the horns.  Then the solo violin enters.  After stating the opening motif, to many notes.  Too, too many notes.  Incessant running up and down the finger board, to what effect?  What is Elgar trying to tell us?  The only message flashing through my brain is, "please make it stop!"  I'm evidently missing something here.

I feel very differently than you do. Most people just assume what they want to about this work or any work by Elgar and pass it off without giving it much of a chance. I'm not sure how much time you have spent with Elgar's "Violin Concerto," but many concerti have sections that are specifically composed for the soloist and Elgar's beautiful composition is no exception. Perhaps you just don't enjoy it, which is fine, but don't discount the composition because you don't "get it." There are plenty of people that do "get it." It's not Elgar's or the music's fault that you don't understand it.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: knight66 on June 27, 2010, 11:09:03 AM
If you read on, I think you will find that Scarpia had a Damasine conversion.

Mike
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Luke on June 27, 2010, 11:10:30 AM
I feel very differently than you do. Most people just assume what they want to about this work or any work by Elgar and pass it off without giving it much of a chance. I'm not sure how much time you have spent with Elgar's "Violin Concerto," but many concerti have sections that specifically composed for the soloist and Elgar's beautiful composition is no exception. Perhaps you don't enjoy, which is fine, but don't discount the composition because you don't "get it." There are plenty of people that do "get it." It's not Elgar's or the music's fault that you don't understand it.

Umm, can't really speak for Scarpia, but I think he feels very differently about that piece now (as the subsequent pages of this thread reveal, if you go on to read them). In fact, he's spoken eloquently recently, on another thread, about how reading the thoughts of posters like Elgarian helped him find the key to this piece (or however it is best described). Thus demonstrating once again the value of an open mind (and I think you will be able to guess what I am thinking about....)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Mirror Image on June 27, 2010, 11:22:25 AM
Umm, can't really speak for Scarpia, but I think he feels very differently about that piece now (as the subsequent pages of this thread reveal, if you go on to read them). In fact, he's spoken eloquently recently, on another thread, about how reading the thoughts of posters like Elgarian helped him find the key to this piece (or however it is best described). Thus demonstrating once again the value of an open mind (and I think you will be able to guess what I am thinking about....)

Oh okay, I'm glad Scarpia enjoys this work now. There are many pages to this thread, so you have to excuse for not reading through them all. Yes, an open-mind is all it takes, but there are always instances where someone doesn't enjoy a piece of music, but the composer certainly isn't to be blamed for that of course.
 
I have expressed my dislike for the Second Viennese School of Music for years, but now, I find enjoyment in many of their compositions. All it took was for me to open my mind up. That said, I have to come to adore Berg's music in particular.
 
Anyway, I'm going to be listening to more Elgar over the course of the next few days, so I can become reaquinted with this fine composer.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on June 27, 2010, 11:59:00 AM
There are plenty of people that do "get it." It's not Elgar's or the music's fault that you don't understand it.
I'm only echoing here what others have said already, but actually Scarpia's open-mindedness and steadily developing enjoyment and understanding of the VC (pretty well documented in this thread, as you'll find if you read on) was quite exciting to follow. There is, as you say, a lot to read in this thread - but it was one of the most rewarding forum conversations I've ever participated in, with a variety of opinions - very knowledgeable and sensitive opinions too - being expressed and contemplated. I think everyone (myself included) found themselves re-examining previously-held ideas about the violin concerto, and taking a fresh look at them.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on July 28, 2010, 10:28:33 AM
TTT

Yes, this has been a fine and illumining discussion.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on February 20, 2011, 09:45:30 AM
Another interesting Elgar experience.  Listened to this disc:



(actually I have it as part of a boxed set).  Cockaigne is a wonderful piece depicting 19th century London, with lively, sentimental and "noble" themes with generous deployment of the resources of the overture.  The Enigma variations are well known to everyone on this thread, and both pieces benefit from beautiful recorded sound which allows you to hear every instrument of the orchestra with clarity.  Very nice.   But the reason I bring it up, there is the "Introduction and Allegro."  I listened to the piece in the Davis recording and thought, "well, that's a decent performance, but I remember the piece being a lot more interesting."  I wonder why I recall the Introduction and Allegro as being such a magnificent piece of music, and epitome of English music for strings.  Then, I remembered.



I got the disc out, with a little anxiety that one of my "favorite" recordings would turn out to be a let-down.

My lord, you cannot believe the difference this performance makes!  Every phrase that just lays there like a limp noodle in the Davis performance, seemingly without purpose, jumps out of the air in Barbirolli's performance.  Barbirolli knows exactly how each phrase should be articulated, how it emerges from what precedes and how it prepares for what comes next.  He knows how each instrument contributes to every instant of glorious string sonority in this music.  Every note is alive.  Davis just doesn't understand how this music works.

For those who claim that having more than one recording of a piece is a waste of money and time because it doesn't matter, I challenge you to listen to this recording and any other recording and then say it doesn't matter.

And one final thought, if you haven't heard Barbirolli's Elgar, you haven't heard Elgar!


Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on February 20, 2011, 10:11:42 AM
And one final thought, if you haven't heard Barbirolli's Elgar, you haven't heard Elgar!


Agreed! I don't think Andrew Davis is an inspired Elgarian. Barbirolli is. And Boult - his EMI Second Symphony is, to my ears, superior to Barbirolli's.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Luke on February 20, 2011, 10:12:14 AM
What if you've heard Elgar's Elgar, have you heard Elgar then?

being facetious - thanks for that excellent post. Am tempted to go and put on that Barbirolli disc now, actually...
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Guido on February 20, 2011, 10:21:43 AM
Is Falstaff his best orchestral work as he thought? It's mightily impressive, but I don't know the two symphonies at all well yet. Robin Holloway puts it (with Tapiola) as the greatest tone poem ever written.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Luke on February 20, 2011, 10:34:39 AM
He certainly does! I remember those two lectures... It's hardly ever talked about round here, is it, which is odd, given its quality. It certainly is a mighty piece, and a tender one too - I can't help but compare it to Strauss's portrait symphonic poems and think that Elgar comes off as the greater humanist of the two (Don Quixote excepted, but even then...)  I think those two, Tapiola and Falstaff, represent the two poles of what symphonic poem can do - there was never a landscape piece more purely elemental than the Sibelius, nor a portrait piece more rounded, complex and understanding than the Elgar. In that respect, Robin has a point, I think.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on February 20, 2011, 11:13:17 AM
What if you've heard Elgar's Elgar, have you heard Elgar then?

If you call the transfers of those old shellac discs "hearing" I guess the answer is yes.   ;D

But, on the other hand, we can't take for granted that the composer is the best conductor of his (or her) own music. 
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Klaatu on February 20, 2011, 11:15:36 AM
Just my own silly take on the ending of Elgar's VC....

Once in a blue moon a piece of music brings to mind a really vivid mental picture or a literary reference. These occasions are few but very intense. Two examples:

1) My first hearing of the opening of Pettersson's 8th symphony immediately produced an image of a train, crowded with Jewish men, women and children on their way to an extermination camp. (Ever since that moment I've had no time for those who see Pettersson's music as "self-pitying" - to me it speaks of a composer's pity for others, and his furious anger at injustice.)

2) The beautiful flute solo that interrupts the dark, doom-laden pages of the finale of Mahler's Tenth is, for me, Thomas Hardy's poem The Darkling Thrush set to music. (The poem itself I find deeply moving; my association of it with Mahler's music is sufficient to make my eyes well up, and nowadays the passage has added poignancy since it reminds me of a dear friend who died last year; the flute was her instrument. The end of Mahler 10 has become one of those pieces of music which I both adore and find totally unbearable!)

Returning to the Elgar VC - the ending of the piece, where the soloist lingers yearningly over remembered themes from the earlier movements, and then sweeps on to an upbeat conclusion, always brings to my mind the last lines of D H Lawrence's Sons and Lovers:

She was the only thing that held him up, himself, amid all this. And she was gone, intermingled herself. He wanted her to touch him, have him alongside with her.

But no, he would not give in. Turning sharply, he walked towards the city's gold phosphorescence. His fists were shut, his mouth set fast. He would not take that direction, to the darkness, to follow her. He walked towards the faintly humming, glowing town, quickly.


A bit daft, maybe. But I hear these lines in my head - or rather, sense the emotion behind them - every time I hear the final pages of EE's lovely concerto.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on February 20, 2011, 04:12:38 PM
Is Falstaff his best orchestral work as he thought? It's mightily impressive, but I don't know the two symphonies at all well yet. Robin Holloway puts it (with Tapiola) as the greatest tone poem ever written.

I'm just starting to warm to the symphonies, but I'd still call Falstaff a stand-out.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on February 22, 2011, 11:12:34 AM
But the reason I bring it up, there is the "Introduction and Allegro."  For those who claim that having more than one recording of a piece is a waste of money and time because it doesn't matter, I challenge you to listen to this recording and any other recording and then say it doesn't matter.

And one final thought, if you haven't heard Barbirolli's Elgar, you haven't heard Elgar!

I seem to have only three versions of this work:

Capella Istropolitana / Adrian Leaper / Naxos 8.550331
English String Orchestra / William Boughton / Nimbus NIM 5008
Hallé Orchestra / Mark Elder / CD HLL 7507

I am planning to buy the EMI 30CD box which contains Barbirolli. It seems that my wait has been for nothing since the price of that boxset just won't come down.  >:(
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: mc ukrneal on February 22, 2011, 11:37:01 AM
I seem to have only three versions of this work:

Capella Istropolitana / Adrian Leaper / Naxos 8.550331
English String Orchestra / William Boughton / Nimbus NIM 5008
Hallé Orchestra / Mark Elder / CD HLL 7507

I am planning to buy the EMI 30CD box which contains Barbirolli. It seems that my wait has been for nothing since the price of that boxset just won't come down.  >:(
Where are you looking? I see it is $45 at Amazon US and even as low as 33 pounds at Amazon UK.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on February 22, 2011, 11:57:19 AM
Where are you looking? I see it is $45 at Amazon US and even as low as 33 pounds at Amazon UK.

I hoped for getting it for 30 euros (£23+shipping).  After all, this is a supercheap re-re-release of old material...
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Mirror Image on February 22, 2011, 12:01:09 PM
Agreed! I don't think Andrew Davis is an inspired Elgarian. Barbirolli is. And Boult - his EMI Second Symphony is, to my ears, superior to Barbirolli's.

I love Barbirolli's Elgar recordings. Those are my reference recordings even after all these years. Andrew Davis' Elgar is pretty good, but Sinopoli's is better and, of course, Boult as well.

Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on February 22, 2011, 12:06:53 PM
I hoped for getting it for 30 euros (£23+shipping).  After all, this is a supercheap re-re-release of old material...

Let me explain how this works.  They make a certain number of them, they sit in their warehouse, then they run out.   It the publisher gets truly alarmed that they will never sell they may drop the price to an obscenely low level.  That's how I got a new copy of the EMI complete Richter edition for $5.  But if that was going to happen it would likely have happened already.  Do you think you will get a better deal when there are none left at the publisher?

Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: mc ukrneal on February 22, 2011, 12:08:38 PM
I hoped for getting it for 30 euros (£23+shipping).  After all, this is a supercheap re-re-release of old material...
There is a MP france seller for EUR 34. $45 is close to EUR 33. In any case, it won't go down until you buy it - that's when they will have the sale! Never fails for me!  ;)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on February 22, 2011, 12:14:20 PM
Let me explain how this works.  They make a certain number of them, they sit in their warehouse, then they run out.   It the publisher gets truly alarmed that they will never sell they may drop the price to an obscenely low level.  That's how I got a new copy of the EMI complete Richter edition for $5.  But if that was going to happen it would likely have happened already.  Do you think you will get a better deal when there are none left at the publisher?

Why are you so worried about my purchases? If I don't get a deal good enough I don't simply buy. That's what all people do all the time.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on February 22, 2011, 12:48:31 PM
Why are you so worried about my purchases? If I don't get a deal good enough I don't simply buy. That's what all people do all the time.

I'm just saying, do you want it for the cheapest price you can get it, or do you want it only if it is that cheap?  It you want it for the cheapest price you can get it I'd advise you to get it now.  If you want it only if it is that cheap, that's fine too.  But since you are a self-described Elgar fanatic, who should have the set if you don't?

Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Mirror Image on February 22, 2011, 01:56:51 PM
I'm just saying, do you want it for the cheapest price you can get it, or do you want it only if it is that cheap?  It you want it for the cheapest price you can get it I'd advise you to get it now.  If you want it only if it is that cheap, that's fine too.  But since you are a self-described Elgar fanatic, who should have the set if you don't?

You would think somebody who is an Elgar fanatic would own most of his recordings, but apparently this isn't the case with this poster.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on February 22, 2011, 01:59:53 PM
And from this senator's standpoint, $45 is a reasonably attractive price point for a 30-disc box.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on February 23, 2011, 07:12:27 AM
I'm just saying, do you want it for the cheapest price you can get it, or do you want it only if it is that cheap?  It you want it for the cheapest price you can get it I'd advise you to get it now.  If you want it only if it is that cheap, that's fine too.  But since you are a self-described Elgar fanatic, who should have the set if you don't?

What I want is to be rich. Unfortunately that isn't an option because I am either talented nor lucky. So, I try to optimize my purchases so that I can get as much as possible those things I want. Not buying expensive Elgar makes it possible to buy other things I like.

Self-described Elgar fanatic? I don't think so. Having a favorite composer makes nobody a fanatic...

You would think somebody who is an Elgar fanatic would own most of his recordings, but apparently this isn't the case with this poster.

See above. Am I really that fanatic about Elgar? Besides, I own about half of the box already. If I didn't have any recordings of the box I would have bought it ages ago.   ;)

And from this senator's standpoint, $45 is a reasonably attractive price point for a 30-disc box.

Yes, but who buys 30-disc boxes nonchalantly?

There is a MP france seller for EUR 34. $45 is close to EUR 33. In any case, it won't go down until you buy it - that's when they will have the sale! Never fails for me!  ;)

Thanks for the hint! I have just ordered the boxset from Amazon.fr MP for 33.95€ + 3.40€ for shipping.  ;D
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on February 23, 2011, 08:55:52 AM
What I want is to be rich. Unfortunately that isn't an option because I am either talented nor lucky. So, I try to optimize my purchases so that I can get as much as possible those things I want. Not buying expensive Elgar makes it possible to buy other things I like.

Self-described Elgar fanatic? I don't think so. Having a favorite composer makes nobody a fanatic...

Good to hear you've come to your senses and acknowledge that Elgar is a minor composer.   ;D
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Mirror Image on May 16, 2011, 08:41:41 PM
Thought I would revive this thread...

I really enjoy Elgar's music, but I do not love it, which I guess is only natural as I can't love everything nor can anyone else. Maybe I should ask this question: how do we know we love a composer's music or not? How do we separate liking and loving something? Like, for example, I love Bruckner's music, but I only like Mahler's music, how does one reconcile these differences?
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: abidoful on May 16, 2011, 10:16:30 PM
Thought I would revive this thread...

I really enjoy Elgar's music, but I do not love it, which I guess is only natural as I can't love everything nor can anyone else. Maybe I should ask this question: how do we know we love a composer's music or not? How do we separate liking and loving something? Like, for example, I love Bruckner's music, but I only like Mahler's music, how does one reconcile these differences?
I don't know but its only naturala I think. Especially with Mahler versus Bruckner; I have the same thing with those.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on May 16, 2011, 10:22:34 PM
Thought I would revive this thread...

I really enjoy Elgar's music, but I do not love it, which I guess is only natural as I can't love everything nor can anyone else. Maybe I should ask this question: how do we know we love a composer's music or not? How do we separate liking and loving something? Like, for example, I love Bruckner's music, but I only like Mahler's music, how does one reconcile these differences?


That's something for your dormant soulmate thread...
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: eyeresist on May 16, 2011, 10:53:46 PM
I don't know but its only naturala I think. Especially with Mahler versus Bruckner; I have the same thing with those.

Mahler is too clever. He's the smartest boy in the class, and he knows it. But I do quite like him!
 
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on May 16, 2011, 10:56:14 PM
Mahler is too clever. He's the smartest boy in the class, and he knows it. But I do quite like him!

I generally agree, Mahler is a showman.  Bruckner could not have written any other way, as evidenced by the fact that all of his symphonies sound alike.   :P
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Sergeant Rock on May 17, 2011, 02:36:51 AM
How do we know we love a composer's music or not? How do we separate liking and loving something?

In my case I can tell by how many recordings I own of any single work. One or two=like. Three to Six=crush. Seven to ten=love.  ;D
As many as possible, expense be damned=soulmate  0:)  Mahler, Sibelius, Wagner, Bruckner occupy the last category.

Sarge
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: DavidW on May 17, 2011, 05:44:33 AM
MI if you find yourself listening to the same composer years later, despite knowing every note it's love.  If you've moved on, it was mere infatuation. ;D
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: abidoful on May 17, 2011, 05:52:56 AM
I generally agree, Mahler is a showman.  Bruckner could not have written any other way, as evidenced by the fact that all of his symphonies sound alike.   :P
I think Mahler is "modern"- and I don't mean a musical style but an attitude or a character- in the sense that he's always busy. He has lots of impressions and is quick to share them. With Bruckner i have a feeling of a fine old wine, it has had time to grow and mature.

 Basically Mahler lacks debth. But I really don't want to say that becouse that's who he is, and what he sought after apparently. Still, Mahler was a great musician and a greta composer anyway. Just that I dont relate to him or his music doesn't give me what I look from music.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Mirror Image on May 17, 2011, 07:30:37 AM
MI if you find yourself listening to the same composer years later, despite knowing every note it's love.  If you've moved on, it was mere infatuation. ;D

In that case, Ravel, Bartok, Bruckner, Vaughan Williams, Berg, Stravinsky, and Villa-Lobos fills that bill quite nicely. :)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: eyeresist on May 18, 2011, 05:45:11 PM
I feel bad about Sibelius. I have a number of sets of the symphonies, and still like the music, but I have the feeling there's nothing more to be mined from the listening experience, whereas others keep me coming back for more.
 
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on May 18, 2011, 05:48:38 PM
I feel bad about Sibelius. I have a number of sets of the symphonies, and still like the music, but I have the feeling there's nothing more to be mined from the listening experience, whereas others keep me coming back for more.

I have just the opposite reaction, at least from late Sibelius. 
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Mirror Image on May 18, 2011, 05:51:19 PM
I have just the opposite reaction, at least from late Sibelius.

Yes, I can listen to Sibelius' 7th and Tapiola and just marvel at the tapestry of sound being pummeled at me. Hell, I think Sibelius' 4th is a masterpiece too. Not later Sibelius, but a fine work that never gets old or even familiar.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on May 18, 2011, 05:53:49 PM
This is the Elgar thread?
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Mirror Image on May 18, 2011, 07:18:43 PM
This is the Elgar thread?

Yes, at one point, it was. ;)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: mc ukrneal on May 19, 2011, 01:16:38 AM
I finally listened to this Elgar piece for the first time:


The Spirit of England is by Elgar and what a remarkable piece. Is anyone else familiar with it? The first part seems uplifting, but quickly makes way for sadder music in the second part - occassionally devastating in tone/atmosphere. The third part is titled 'For the Fallen' and mixes it up, but you are never far from the fact that this is a wartime piece. My understanding is that 'Spirit' is a sort of requiem, using three of Laurence Binyon's poems. Very well performed it is too. The singing is moving and well balanced with the orchestra.

Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Hattoff on May 19, 2011, 04:31:03 AM
Yes, The Spirit of England is my favourite Elgar work. It is unbelievably beautiful and very moving. Even a lot of Elgarians don't know it well but they should  :)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: 71 dB on May 20, 2011, 03:51:17 AM
The Spirit of England is by Elgar and what a remarkable piece. Is anyone else familiar with it?

It is a great work indeed. The only version I have is Lott/Hickox on EMI. Time to get Alexander Gibson?
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Mirror Image on May 25, 2011, 01:20:32 PM
Just bought:



I've heard these were definitive performances of these two symphonies. I have a composer friend who's big into Elgar who directed me towards these recordings. I generally like Boult, so it should be good. Anybody else own this? Any thoughts?
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: eyeresist on May 25, 2011, 05:39:59 PM
I still fume when I think of how Boult wasn't allowed to move the second violins to the right side of the orchestra. Bloody philistines.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Mirror Image on May 25, 2011, 05:43:05 PM
I still fume when I think of how Boult wasn't allowed to move the second violins to the right side of the orchestra. Bloody philistines.

But how are the performances?
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on May 26, 2011, 01:39:36 AM
But how are the performances?


The performances are, of course, good. I marginally prefer Boult's EMI recordings, though. His Lyrita readings sound drier to these ears.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Mirror Image on May 26, 2011, 11:18:55 AM

The performances are, of course, good. I marginally prefer Boult's EMI recordings, though. His Lyrita readings sound drier to these ears.

I'll probably end up getting the EMI recordings as well. Why not? I think Elgar deserves a fair shake from time to time. :)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on May 26, 2011, 12:16:50 PM
I'll probably end up getting the EMI recordings as well. Why not? I think Elgar deserves a fair shake from time to time. :)


He does. The final movement of the First and the middle movements of the Second are my favourites. If a conductor gets those right (to me), I consider it a good performance. If I get lifted from my seat, it is a great performance. Colin Davis is superb in the First, Boult terrific in his EMI Second. I don't know Solti's interpretation, alas. But that will change.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on May 26, 2011, 12:23:31 PM

He does. The final movement of the First and the middle movements of the Second are my favourites. If a conductor gets those right (to me), I consider it a good performance. If I get lifted from my seat, it is a great performance. Colin Davis is superb in the First, Boult terrific in his EMI Second. I don't know Solti's interpretation, alas. But that will change.

Not all change is good...
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on May 26, 2011, 12:27:32 PM
Not all change is good...


I can only know that retrospectively. So we'll see.  ;)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Scarpia on May 26, 2011, 12:29:46 PM

I can only know that retrospectively. So we'll see.  ;)

What has been heard cannot be un-heard.   ;D
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on May 26, 2011, 01:14:48 PM
What has been heard cannot be un-heard.   ;D


That's true.  :o Still, I'll risk it.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: drogulus on May 26, 2011, 02:16:09 PM
I finally listened to this Elgar piece for the first time:


The Spirit of England is by Elgar and what a remarkable piece. Is anyone else familiar with it? The first part seems uplifting, but quickly makes way for sadder music in the second part - occassionally devastating in tone/atmosphere. The third part is titled 'For the Fallen' and mixes it up, but you are never far from the fact that this is a wartime piece. My understanding is that 'Spirit' is a sort of requiem, using three of Laurence Binyon's poems. Very well performed it is too. The singing is moving and well balanced with the orchestra.



     I have the Gibson/Scottish NO recording, which is very good.

     

That's true.  :o Still, I'll risk it.

     I'd go with Haitink before Solti if I wanted to try a non-British conductor.

     I listened to the Solti clips on Amazon. Yeah, that's what I thought. (http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/Smileys/classic/cheesy.gif) But the way he punches it up sounds pretty good to me. Maybe you should give these a try.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: drogulus on May 26, 2011, 02:35:42 PM
It is a great work indeed. The only version I have is Lott/Hickox on EMI. Time to get Alexander Gibson?

     Yes, Gibson by all means.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: eyeresist on May 26, 2011, 04:55:19 PM
What has been heard cannot be un-heard.   ;D

Listen with a bottle of strong spirits close at hand, and if that fails, a hammer (for the hitting of the head with).
 
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: knight66 on May 30, 2011, 08:11:24 AM
I finally listened to this Elgar piece for the first time:


 

Yes, I know it and rate it highly. Possibly partisan, but my favourite recording is the Gibson one, I am in the choir. It was recorded at Paisley Abbey and has an appropriately reverberant acoustic. However, the crown of the performance is Teresa Cahill who soars on the top line and sings the quiet moments with intensity.

Samples here:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Elgar-Coronation-Ode-Spirit-England/dp/B000000A9N/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1306775382&sr=1-1

Mike
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on August 17, 2011, 12:24:16 PM
However, the crown of the performance is Teresa Cahill who soars on the top line and sings the quiet moments with intensity.

Oh so true.

I listen to The Spirit of England more often than any other single piece by Elgar (it's far and away his most outrageously neglected and undervalued work, as I've maintained long, and often), and the recording with Cahill/Gibson/SNO utterly nails it, like no other.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on August 17, 2011, 12:34:23 PM
The Spirit of England is by Elgar and what a remarkable piece. Is anyone else familiar with it?

It's carved into my soul, by now. Here's part of post #51, from the 'Walking with Elgar' thread (see http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,12196.msg338396.html#msg338396 (http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,12196.msg338396.html#msg338396)):

I was sixteen when I first heard the Introduction and Allegro for Strings, which music seemed to emanate from a place that was at once deeply rooted within me, yet also seemed to imply that there was some place 'out there' that I needed to find. So I was bound to make my way to the Malvern Hills eventually (though I grew to know a lot more of Elgar's music before that), and at first when I arrived there I thought 'this is the place'. And in a strictly biographical sense, of course, the Malvern Hills and countryside are, indeed, 'the place'. But over time I realised that 'the place' was really all of England, and Malvern was a kind of symbolic focus for that. And then again, later, I realised that this 'England' was really only a kind of focus for something still deeper and more profound. (I think it's Gimli, isn't it, at Helms Deep, who stamps on the ground and says something like 'this place has strong bones'? Well, this idea of 'England' seemed to be like that.) So this 'England' itself was not so much a place as an idea - like Blake's 'Albion'. It has nothing to do with nationalism; it's partly to do with patriotism, but less so than you might think; it has something to do with landscape, but also more than just landscape - something to do with roots, and belonging, and certain kinds of ideals (noble and heroic ideals, some of them), mingled with a kind of indefinable sadness.

And the point about Elgar is that his music is like an admission ticket into this place/idea. So which of his works, I might ask, is the best ticket? The symphonies are wonderful - I've loved them for decades. The chamber works, so very very different, yet so recognisably Elgar, mark another high point. The cello concerto, the violin concerto - sheer magic, and on and on I could go. But the work by Elgar that I would choose above all others is The Spirit of England (most perfectly and powerfully represented by the Alexander Gibson/Scottish National Orchestra recording, mentioned above, with Teresa Cahill as soloist).

It lasts about half an hour. It's hardly ever performed, I think. I suspect the three currently available recordings sell poorly (though I don't know). But here's Elgar at his most profound. It may not be his greatest music in a technical sense - I'm not competent to judge that. But I believe it's his greatest work of art, in the broadest, most humanistic sense. It's based on three poems by Laurence Binyon, but the literal meaning of the words is really only a kind of rough guide to the meaning of the whole work, which expresses Elgar's deepest feelings about the anguish of war; the nobility of sacrifice; the despair created by the loss of thousands upon thousands of brave young men, and the sheer determination and need to come to terms with that and above all, to remember them appropriately; and the frightening mixture of beauty and pain that inhabits the making of music that deals with such profound thoughts and feelings. I find it impossible still, to listen to it without tears, and without feeling that this may be the most profound work of art I know.

If someone told me I could only listen to one more piece of music, (with silence to follow forever after), I'd choose The Spirit of England to be that final piece.

See also #44 in that thread, and the discussions thereabouts.

Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: mc ukrneal on August 17, 2011, 08:29:27 PM
It's carved into my soul, by now. Here's part of post #51, from the 'Walking with Elgar' thread (see http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,12196.msg338396.html#msg338396 (http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,12196.msg338396.html#msg338396)):

I was sixteen when I first heard the Introduction and Allegro for Strings, which music seemed to emanate from a place that was at once deeply rooted within me, yet also seemed to imply that there was some place 'out there' that I needed to find. So I was bound to make my way to the Malvern Hills eventually (though I grew to know a lot more of Elgar's music before that), and at first when I arrived there I thought 'this is the place'. And in a strictly biographical sense, of course, the Malvern Hills and countryside are, indeed, 'the place'. But over time I realised that 'the place' was really all of England, and Malvern was a kind of symbolic focus for that. And then again, later, I realised that this 'England' was really only a kind of focus for something still deeper and more profound. (I think it's Gimli, isn't it, at Helms Deep, who stamps on the ground and says something like 'this place has strong bones'? Well, this idea of 'England' seemed to be like that.) So this 'England' itself was not so much a place as an idea - like Blake's 'Albion'. It has nothing to do with nationalism; it's partly to do with patriotism, but less so than you might think; it has something to do with landscape, but also more than just landscape - something to do with roots, and belonging, and certain kinds of ideals (noble and heroic ideals, some of them), mingled with a kind of indefinable sadness.

And the point about Elgar is that his music is like an admission ticket into this place/idea. So which of his works, I might ask, is the best ticket? The symphonies are wonderful - I've loved them for decades. The chamber works, so very very different, yet so recognisably Elgar, mark another high point. The cello concerto, the violin concerto - sheer magic, and on and on I could go. But the work by Elgar that I would choose above all others is The Spirit of England (most perfectly and powerfully represented by the Alexander Gibson/Scottish National Orchestra recording, mentioned above, with Teresa Cahill as soloist).

It lasts about half an hour. It's hardly ever performed, I think. I suspect the three currently available recordings sell poorly (though I don't know). But here's Elgar at his most profound. It may not be his greatest music in a technical sense - I'm not competent to judge that. But I believe it's his greatest work of art, in the broadest, most humanistic sense. It's based on three poems by Laurence Binyon, but the literal meaning of the words is really only a kind of rough guide to the meaning of the whole work, which expresses Elgar's deepest feelings about the anguish of war; the nobility of sacrifice; the despair created by the loss of thousands upon thousands of brave young men, and the sheer determination and need to come to terms with that and above all, to remember them appropriately; and the frightening mixture of beauty and pain that inhabits the making of music that deals with such profound thoughts and feelings. I find it impossible still, to listen to it without tears, and without feeling that this may be the most profound work of art I know.

If someone told me I could only listen to one more piece of music, (with silence to follow forever after), I'd choose The Spirit of England to be that final piece.

See also #44 in that thread, and the discussions thereabouts.
Oh very interesting indeed! It has been growing on me with each listen too.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on August 18, 2011, 11:52:44 PM
Has anyone else picked up one of these yet?

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51wWJ09FuEL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)

I'd more or less stopped buying additional recordings of Elgar's chamber music, because (whether through lack of discrimination in my perceptions, or uniformity of excellence in the recordings I can't say) it doesn't seem to matter much which one I listen to. I already have quite a lot, and felt I didn't need more.

But then this arrived on the scene a couple of weeks ago. First - I liked the cover art (though oddly enough I don't think it particularly fits the music very well); second, BBC Music Magazine went ballistic about enthusing over it. Awarded it five billion stars and made it their Record of the Century in All Possible Alternate Universes or something. (Oh, ... you prefer accuracy? OK then, it was their Disc of the Month. And Five Stars.)

Anyway, I can't put my finger on what this recording has, but it certainly has it. Elgar spoke of 'Wood Magic' in relation to these chamber pieces, and there seems to have been a particular association between the piano quintet and a group of weird trees near the cottage he was renting in the middle of a Sussex wood when he composed it. There's a beautiful but slightly sinister spookiness about the quintet whichever version I listen to, but this one (Piers Lane and the Goldner Quartet) seems really to bring that out. It has an ethereal, otherworldly quality, especially in the slow movement. I was surprised, after listening to this, to return to my most-played version (John Ogden/Allegri Quartet) and find it seemed quite dull and plodding by comparison.

Anyway, there you go. I'll be interested to see if this becomes my new favourite recording of these two quintessential late Elgar chamber pieces.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on August 19, 2011, 03:43:51 AM
If so, it will lessen the pang (on my own part) of missing the Bean recording . . . .
 
(The name is Bean, isn't it? I'm not just reflecting a recent absorption with Rowan Atkinson on DVD? . . .)
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on August 19, 2011, 04:10:04 AM
Can I just say - you write extraordinarily well about Elgar, Elgarian (Alan). You must identify as closely with him as I do with the composer you, Blakeanly, dubbed Lagrevah...
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on August 19, 2011, 09:38:29 AM
If so, it will lessen the pang (on my own part) of missing the Bean recording . . . .
 
(The name is Bean, isn't it? I'm not just reflecting a recent absorption with Rowan Atkinson on DVD? . . .)

Do you mean this, Karl?:

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/413Y51QSRRL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)

Actually although the legendary Mr Bean is the soloist in the violin concerto, and features on the String Quartet, he doesn't play on the Piano Quintet on this 2CD set. I can't be entirely sure, but I don't think he ever recorded the Quintet. So your pangs of desire-for-the-absent need only be two-thirds of the intensity that you think they are.

I suspect that anyone buying this new recording will be well content.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on August 19, 2011, 09:50:24 AM
Can I just say - you write extraordinarily well about Elgar, Elgarian (Alan). You must identify as closely with him as I do with the composer you, Blakeanly, dubbed Lagrevah...

Well that's very kind of you to say, though my own view of the matter is that I share a lot of Elgar's psychological hang-ups (which means that his music gets deep under my skin because the empathy is unstoppable) but, alas, not a trace of his musical genius.

With your similar very personal feeling for Lagrevah (O, let Him Fire his Furnaces in the Ancient Alleyways of Albion!), you're probably tuning in to the vibes more than most.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on August 19, 2011, 09:57:06 AM
Do you mean this, Karl?:

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/413Y51QSRRL._SL500_AA300_.jpg (http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/413Y51QSRRL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)

Yes; I am desolate and Beanless.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on August 19, 2011, 10:04:06 AM
Yes; I am desolate and Beanless.
Well, if God had intended us all to have Beans, he'd have given us runners.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on August 19, 2011, 10:49:09 AM
Well, if God had intended us all to have Beans, he'd have given us runners.


 :D



Well that's very kind of you to say, though my own view of the matter is that I share a lot of Elgar's psychological hang-ups (which means that his music gets deep under my skin because the empathy is unstoppable) but, alas, not a trace of his musical genius.

With your similar very personal feeling for Lagrevah (O, let Him Fire his Furnaces in the Ancient Alleyways of Albion!), you're probably tuning in to the vibes more than most.


I am a writer (Dutch), and Brian's style and structures are akin to/have influenced mine. So there is a creative affinity there, apart from something in the man's psyche I respond to at a very deep level...
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on August 19, 2011, 10:58:38 AM
Well, if God had intended us all to have Beans, he'd have given us runners.

This conversation set me searching afresh . . . and I've come up with a used Bean!
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on August 19, 2011, 12:03:30 PM
This conversation set me searching afresh . . . and I've come up with a used Bean!

Well even if you don't share my particularly high esteem for it, you'll be able to say: "Bean there. Done that."
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Mirror Image on August 19, 2011, 06:36:37 PM
I am a writer (Dutch), and Brian's style and structures are akin to/have influenced mine. So there is a creative affinity there, apart from something in the man's psyche I respond to at a very deep level...

Since I can personally relate to a lot of different kinds of people, I can empathize with many composer's styles, but the ones I feel the strongest affinity for are Koechlin, Bartok, Ravel, Villa-Lobos, and Vaughan Williams. I seem to be connected to their music mentally and emotionally than any other composers.

I do relate to some of Elgar's music particularly the masterful and anguished Cello Concerto, which is one of the finest works written for this instrument I think I've ever heard. Finzi's comes in close, but Elgar's really hits home to me. His two symphonies are also deeply personal for me. I think they reflect two sides of the psyche struggling to get out ahead.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: Elgarian on August 20, 2011, 12:42:38 AM
I am a writer (Dutch), and Brian's style and structures are akin to/have influenced mine. So there is a creative affinity there, apart from something in the man's psyche I respond to at a very deep level...

That's interesting: the idea that an affinity with a composer of music can affect the writing of an author. I can't make the same claim about my own writing (the influences there are quite different, and non-musical, I think) but Elgar and his music have had a profound effect on the way I perceive and appreciate English landscape. I suppose there's a kind of multiple symbiosis: an innate love of the landscape of my own, interacting with not just Elgar's music, but also with the paintings of Constable, Turner, Palmer, and Paul Nash; Blake's illuminated books; and the poetry of Ted Hughes - and the whole package growing together like a musico-visual-literary tree.

For a long time I developed a kind of internal mental association between Elgar and the English 'mystic-pastoral' school of painting (Blake, Palmer, Nash etc) but felt that it was too personal and perhaps a bit too fanciful to admit to it. Then I discovered that the Elgar scholar Jerrold Northrop Moore made exactly those claims in his book Elgar: Child of Dreams (2006), which made me think maybe the notion wasn't so fanciful after all. It certainly makes a good deal of sense of those odd little comments Elgar used to make when he was conducting: 'Play this like something you might have heard down by the river'. To him, those landscape associations were inherent in the music, so I guess we the listeners are, in a sense, 'authorised' to make them.
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on August 20, 2011, 01:53:36 AM
Brian's music is built on the dramatic tension between its constituent elements. He can jump from one idea or block to another, creating an overall momentum. As a writer of fiction this can be reproduced by having several story-lines and characters, and juggling them in the most suspenseful manner. Apart from that, his style is very concise, which finds its correlative on the literary side in syntax. I connect Brian with Hopkins (rhythmically, syntactically), Beowulf, Tolkien. And Brian himself loved Blake and Shelley, and Greek tragedy.
 
 Back to Elgar!
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: karlhenning on August 20, 2011, 02:24:14 AM
Spooky. This conversation must have been tugging at the back of mine mind. Johan, I dreamt you sent me a disc of Elgar.  I woke up in a cold sweat . . . .
Title: Re: Elgar's Hillside
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on August 20, 2011, 02:29:39 AM

 Spooky. This conversation must have been tugging at the back of mine mind. Johan, I dreamt you sent me a disc of