Elgar - Enigma Variations, Introduction & Allegro (2009)

Elgar

London Symphony Orchestra

Sir Colin Davis

Loneliness, a sense of nothingness yet combined with great idealism and ambition – all that was true of Elgar. Since the ’Enigma’ Variations first appeared there has been endless speculation as to whether some musical riddle is contained in that ’Enigma’ theme: cryptogram perhaps, or a scrambled reference to the well-known tune ’Auld Lang Syne’ has been suggested. However ingenious or entertaining the results, surely this misses the point. The Variations may begin with ’nothing’, the lonely, melancholic, selfdoubting artist; but they progress to something very different: a depiction of the artist in triumph: in the Finale, ’EDU’ (’Edu’ was Alice’s nickname for Elgar), we see the man who has indeed made something of himself. And it is a musical journey through friendship – the 13 vivid musical portraits of his closest friends that build up to the Finale – which has enabled Elgar to reach that longed-for goal.

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London Symphony Orchestra

The LSO was formed in 1904 as London’s first self-governing orchestra and has been resident orchestra at the Barbican since 1982. Valery Gergiev became Principal Conductor in 2007 following in the footsteps of Hans Richter, Sir Edward Elgar, Sir Thomas Beecham, André Previn, Claudio Abbado and Michael Tilson Thomas, among others. Sir Colin Davis had previously held the position since 1995 and from 2007 became the LSO’s first President since Leonard Bernstein. The Orchestra gives numerous concerts around the world each year, plus more performances in London than any other orchestra. It is the world’s most recorded symphony orchestra and has appeared on some of the greatest classical recordings and film soundtracks. The LSO also runs LSO Discovery, its ground-breaking education programme that is dedicated to introducing the finest music to young and old alike and lets everyone learn more from the Orchestra’s players. For more information visit lso.co.uk

Sir Colin Davis

Principal Conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra from 1995, and then President from 2006 until his death in 2013, Sir Colin Davis performed regularly with the LSO at the Barbican and on tour. As well as featuring on many LSO Live recordings, helping to provide the label with significant profile in its early days, he also recorded widely with Philips, BMG and Erato. His LSO Live releases have won numerous prizes, including Grammy and Gramophone Awards, and a BBC Music Magazine Award (2007), and have covered, among others, repertoire by Berlioz, Dvo?.k, Elgar, Haydn, MacMillan, Sibelius, Tippett, and Verdi. Sir Colin was formerly Chief Conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra (1967–71), became the Music Director of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in 1971, and was Principal Guest Conductor of the New York Philharmonic from 1998 to 2003. Other orchestras he held prominent positions with include the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchetra, the Dresden Staatskapelle, and the English Chamber Orchestra.

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Elgar - Enigma Variations, Introduction & Allegro (2009)

Elgar

London Symphony Orchestra

    Positive Feedback

Newton-Rex contends that the relationship of Elgar's famous "Original Theme" to the melody at the beginning of Pergolesi's Stabat Mater is not one of the theme-and-variations (in other words, Elgar's opening tune is not a variation of Pergolesi's opening tune); but rather, the relationship is that of counterpoint. That is to say, Elgar's opening tune should be thought of as a counterpoint to Pergolesi's opening tune—they were meant to be played in parallel at the same time. At least for the purpose of coming up with an "original theme." This sleight of hand—that a counterpoint to a hidden (not played) theme is itself the theme for perhaps the most famous set of orchestral variations, fits in with much else we know of Elgar's personality. It really is worth your time to click on the link for the intellectual pleasure of following Newton-Rex's argument. One thing that I would like to add to what Newton-Rex says is that, I think that it is fair to say that Elgar's relation to Catholicism was of the "Love/Despair" variety. While Elgar's faith was very important to him and to his creative output, it also must be remembered that when Elgar was growing up, Catholics were under legal restrictions, the relevant one to this discussion is that Elgar, as a Catholic, could not attend a University. Elgar always rued his lack of formal training. But it apparently never occurred to him that had he had "the best teachers," he might have turned out like any number of almost-forgotten British composers known only to a few choirs and chorus members. So, Pergolesi's take on the Crucifixion as the "dark secret" Elgar referred to makes a lot of sense to me. Elgar was shoving Catholicism right under the noses of the British class structure, and they were too self-absorbed to see it or hear it. Which also makes sense as a reason for Elgar's never revealing the secret. There are more than 100 Enigma performances currently available. I can't offhand think of a bad one. But the newcomer Vasily Petrenko has been getting lots of good press. DSD fans should snap up Sir Colin Davis' 2008 LSO Live performance!

John Marks[read full review]

Elgar - Enigma Variations, Introduction & Allegro (2009)

Elgar

London Symphony Orchestra

Producer: James Mallinson
Recording Engineer: Jonathan Stokes, Neil Hutchinson - Classic Sound Ltd
Recording location: Barbican, London England
Recording Software: Merging
Recording Type & Bit Rate: DSD64

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LSO0609: Elgar - Enigma Variations, Introduction & Allegro
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Tracks.
1.
Variations on an Original Theme Enigma , Op. 36: - i. Theme
Elgar
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2.
Variations on an Original Theme Enigma , Op. 36: - ii. Variation I - CAE
Elgar
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3.
Variations on an Original Theme Enigma , Op. 36: - iii. Variation II - HDS-P
Elgar
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4.
Variations on an Original Theme Enigma , Op. 36: - iv. Variation III - RBT
Elgar
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5.
Variations on an Original Theme Enigma , Op. 36: - v. Variation IV - WMB
Elgar
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6.
Variations on an Original Theme Enigma , Op. 36: - vi. Variation V - RPA
Elgar
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7.
Variations on an Original Theme Enigma , Op. 36: - vii. Variation VI - Ysobel
Elgar
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Variations on an Original Theme Enigma , Op. 36: - viii. Variation VII - Troyte
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Variations on an Original Theme Enigma , Op. 36: - ix. Variation VIII - WN
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Variations on an Original Theme Enigma , Op. 36: - x. Variation IX - Nimrod
Elgar
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11.
Variations on an Original Theme Enigma , Op. 36: - xi. Variation X - Dorabella
Elgar
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12.
Variations on an Original Theme Enigma , Op. 36: - xii. Variation XI - GRS
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13.
Variations on an Original Theme Enigma , Op. 36: - xiii. Variation XII - BGN
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14.
Variations on an Original Theme Enigma , Op. 36: - xiv. Variation XIII
Elgar
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15.
Variations on an Original Theme Enigma , Op. 36: - xv. Variation XIV - EDU
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16.
Introduction & Allegro for Strings, Op 47
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