Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Elgar - as much or as little as you require


The Dream of Gerontius and the two symphonies are Edward Elgar's masterpieces. But in this his 150th anniversary year, these works are missing completely from the BBC Proms, the self-styled 'world's greatest classical music festival'. Yet the same festival finds space for even more 'third pressing Mahler' (not my words) after last year's abundant crop.

But over in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, the Bard Music Festival (photo above) manages to include both The Dream of Gerontius and the E flat Symphony to huge acclaim, as part of a visionary celebration of Elgar's music.

Elgar once said "There is music in the air, music all around us, the world is full of it and you simply take as much as you require." Clearly upstate New Yorkers require more of it than London concert goers.

Now read about Elgar carrying on Beethoven's business.
Header photo shows the stunning Frank Gehry designed Fisher Centre for the Performing Arts at Bard College, NY. Photo credit Bard.edu. Any copyrighted material on these pages is included as "fair use", for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Report broken links, missing images and other errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk

6 comments:

Garth Trinkl said...

I think it helps that Bard College has as its president a practicing conductor and musicologist -- Leon Botstein (who, as you probably know, apparently is slated to conduct a revival of John Foulds's World Requiem at the Royal Albert Hall in London on November 11, 2007).

Now, if major orchestras or radio systems in Britain or the United States were similarly administered by highly educated, progressive, and practicing musicians (including musicologists) their programs might be more culturally coherent, persuasive, and meaningful.

*

PS. I was fascinated to read, the other night, that the prize-winning, very well-rounded and insightful performer and scholar Charles Rosen was a student of composer Karl Weigl; who you and conductor John McLaughlin Williams discussed here last winter.

Pliable said...

Email received

The seeming British disrespect of Elgar is nothing short of appalling.

And anybody who thinks he was not forward looking clearly does not know the symphonies or Dream of Gerontius.

Just the other day, on my iPod, i was listening to Adrian Boult's stereo recordings of the two symphonies (and Pomp, and Enigma, and Serenade, etc.)

I am amazed how dissonant the 1st symphony is, how it almost seems to anticipate Walton's 1st.

Cheers
David Cavlovic

Henry Holland said...

Prompted by Steven Smith's (Night After Night blogger and New York Times critic, among other jobs) ecstatic review of the Bard concerts, I pulled out my recordings of the symphonies (Halle, Barbirolli) that I hadn't played in dogs years.

I was totally knocked out at how good the two symphonies are! They're definitely in heavy rotation for me these days.

Any recommendations for recordings of the three big oratorios (Gerontius, The Apostles, The Kingdom)?

Drew80 said...

I have no recommendations for The Apostles.

For Gerontius, the following are all quite excellent:

Barbirolli on EMI
Boult on EMI
Britten on Decca
Hickox on Chandos

For The Kingdom, the following are quite good:

Hickox on Chandos
Slatkin on RCA (believe it or not)

Henry Holland said...

Thanks Drew80 for the recommendations. Is that good Pears or wobbly Pears on the Britten? :-)

Drew80 said...

Wobbly, I'm afraid.