|This is my po st from this week's Tuesday Blog.|
No. 294 of the ongoing ITYWLTMT series of audio montages, which can be found in our archives at https://archive.org/details/pcast294
This week’s Blog and Podcast – our quarterly “Fifth Tuesday” post - features two of Sir Edward Elgar’s three concertos – his concerto for violin and his more famous cello concerto.
According to the Elgar Society’s website, two concertos for the cello are performed more often than any others. One is by Antonin Dvorak, an epic work brimming with melodies and embracing a wide range of emotion. The other is Elgar's: intimate, highly-concentrated and unlike any other ever written for the instrument.
Elgar wrote the concerto in 1919, just after the Great War. Appalled and disillusioned by the suffering caused by the war, he realized that life in Europe would never be the same after such destruction. His first reaction had been to withdraw from composition, and he wrote very little music during the war's first four years. Then, over a period of twelve months - from August of 1918 to the following August - Elgar poured his feelings into four works that rank among the finest he ever composed. Among that set was the Cello Concerto, Elgar's lament for a lost world. The performance I chose is by Canadian cellist Shauna Rolston.
Elgar was at the height of his fame when the Philharmonic Society commissioned a violin concerto in 1909. The work was dedicated to Fritz Kreisler, the internationally famous violinist who was the soloist at its first performance.
The work is long for a violin concerto and expansive in mood but nevertheless compelling and not overblown. It contains none of the pomposity and swagger found in many of Elgar's works which some commentators find disturbing and rather distasteful. The work is firmly established in the classical repertoire although not performed frequently. The performance on the montage is one by Nigel Kennedy during the early stages of his career.
It is easy to dismiss Salut d'Amour as an insignificant trifle, salon music not deserving a wider audience. However, for the work to establish itself so forcefully in what was a fiercely competitive field says much for its charm and quality. The version of the piece I chose to complete the podcast is a setting for violin and small ensemble, featuring Gil Shaham and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra.
I think you will love this music too.