Elgar: The Sketches for Symphony No. 3

Elgar: The Sketches for Symphony No. 3

by Paul Daniel
     
 

When the BBC commissioned Edward Elgar's Third Symphony in 1932, it had been more than a decade since the composer had completed a large-scale work. Elgar's creative fire seemed to have been snuffed out with the death of his wife, Alice, in 1920. He worked on the symphony on and off for about two years, leaving only rough, disjointed sketches of the work's four… See more details below

Overview

When the BBC commissioned Edward Elgar's Third Symphony in 1932, it had been more than a decade since the composer had completed a large-scale work. Elgar's creative fire seemed to have been snuffed out with the death of his wife, Alice, in 1920. He worked on the symphony on and off for about two years, leaving only rough, disjointed sketches of the work's four movements on his death in 1934, and he left explicit instructions that no one was to "tinker" with it. Although in early 1933 Elgar claimed that he considered this symphony "the strongest thing [he had] put on paper," the end product seemed to be nothing more than yet another failed effort. Then along came Anthony Payne, a gifted composer himself, who fleshed out some of the sketches for a 1995 BBC radio program, showing an almost preternatural understanding of Elgar's style and hinting at the marvelous music that might have been. Finally, with full approval from Elgar's family, Payne completed his "elaboration" of the sketches. The result is a work of astounding beauty and power that's as much a tribute to Payne's genius as it is to Elgar's. Andrew Davis and the BBC Symphony made a superb premiere recording, and now Naxos offers an equally fine budget alternative. Conductor Paul Daniel leads the Bournemouth Symphony in a sharply focused performance that abounds with nobility, swagger, and warmth. If Bournemouth's strings can't match the richness of their BBC counterparts, they play with dedication that disarms real criticism. At Naxos' rock-bottom price, those who have fallen in love with this work through Davis's recording can easily afford to hear another interpretation, and those Elgarians who haven't yet discovered this miraculous score no longer have an excuse. Urgently recommended.

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Jim Svejda
Since the early 1930s, there have been persistent rumors about the symphony that the BBC commissioned from Sir Edward Elgar, whose sketches for the work have finally seen the light of day in an "elaboration" by the English composer Anthony Payne. This Naxos recording of Elgar's Third Symphony contains many fascinating suggestions as to what might have been, together with a good deal of inspired music that, if it isn't exactly Elgar, nonetheless makes some unquestionably Elgarian noises. Unlike the various attempts to finish the final movement of Bruckner's Ninth Symphony from the composer's sketches, this is definitely not a case of gluing arms onto the Venus de Milo. Apart from finishing the first 17 bars of the first movement in full score, Elgar left only tantalizing bits and pieces, and it's a credit to Payne's taste, skill, imagination, and sheer persistence that these precious fragments of late Elgar can now be enjoyed. Paul Daniel and the Bournemouth Symphony act as though they're playing real music, not participating in some archeological dig, and the Naxos recorded sound and Robin Golding's helpful notes are all they ought to be. For those of us who can't get enough of this great romantic composer, this music is an answer to a prayer.

Product Details

Release Date:
05/16/2000
Label:
Naxos
UPC:
0636943471920
catalogNumber:
8554719
Rank:
219151

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Symphony No. 3 (realiezed by Anthony Payne) - realized by Payne, Anthony  - Edward Elgar  -  Bournemouth Sinfonietta  - Paul Daniel  -  Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra

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