- Sea Pictures, song cycle for alto & orchestra (or piano), Op. 37
- Quintet for piano & strings in A minor, Op. 84
Elgar: Piano Quintet; Sea Pictures - Orchestrated by Donald Fraserby Kenneth Woods
Transcriptions of all kinds were common in the pre-recording era, but they usually went in the direction of making a large work suitable for use in the home or some other smaller venue, not in the direction of enlargement as occurs here. The orchestration of the "Piano Quintet in A minor, Op. 84," though, is of a type not unheard of; Schoenberg orchestrated the Brahms "Piano Quartet No. 1 in G minor, Op. 25," in 1937. Indeed, the Elgar "Piano Quintet," a work whose reputation seems to be on the rise, fares well in the orchestration by Donald Fraser. Sample the slow movement (track 2), with one of those noble Elgar melodies that makes the British roll over and put their paws in the air and is likely to give other nationalities a pretty mellow time as well. The version of "Sea Pictures, Op. 37," is perhaps another matter. It is an orchestral work to begin with, so Fraser has not so much orchestrated it as re-orchestrated it. The contralto or mezzo-soprano soloist is replaced by a choir, with the harmonies filled in by some of the original orchestral parts. What's left in the orchestra is a pared-down pairing of orchestra and solo string group. This makes a substantially different impression from the original, and it's hard to argue that the work is improved. The booklet points to an increased emphasis on melodic unity, but that unity in the original has the orchestral variety as a counterweight. The singing of the Rodolfus Choir is gorgeously rich, and it may be that the legions who love the "Sea Pictures" will enjoy this variation. Avie's Abbey Road studio sound is near ideal: clear and warm. Recommended.
- Release Date:
Performance CreditsKenneth Woods Primary Artist
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