- The British Empire March, for orchestra - Edward Elgar - BBC Philharmonic Orchestra - Andrew Davis
- Coronation March, for orchestra, Op. 65 - Edward Elgar - BBC Philharmonic Orchestra - Andrew Davis
- Imperial March, for orchestra, Op. 32 - Edward Elgar - BBC Philharmonic Orchestra - Andrew Davis
- The Crown of India, imperial masque in 2 tableaux for alto, bass, chorus & orchestra, Op. 66 - Edward Elgar - BBC Philharmonic Orchestra - Gerald Finley - Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus - Darius Battiwalla - Andrew Davis - Kenny Hamilton - Barbara Marten - Clare Shearer - Deborah McAndrew - Joanne Mitchell
Sir Edward Elgar: The Crown of Indiaby Andrew Davis
Even the greatest composers have written embarrassingly awful works, and perhaps unsurprisingly, many of those works were written for patriotic purposes. Examples include Beethoven's "Der glorreiche Augenblick," his celebration of the Congress of Vienna in 1814, and Brahms' "Triumphlied," his celebration of Prussian victory over the French in 1871. Another is Edward Elgar's "Crown of India," from 1912, his "Imperial Masque in Two Tableaux" scored for full orchestra, mixed chorus, mezzo-soprano and baritone soloists, plus three speaking parts depicting the spirits of India, Calcutta, and Delhi. Commissioned in coordination with the triumphal appearance in India of King George V that same year and performed in London in what would now be described as a music hall, "The Crown of India" did not outlast its initial run of performances, the first two weeks of which were conducted twice a day by the composer himself. The work soon faded into obscurity except as the rarely performed and recorded Crown of India suite. The entire Masque is given its world premiere recording here in a completion by noted Elgar scholar Anthony Payne, with Andrew Davis leading the BBC Philharmonic and the Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus. The two-hour work contains much vital and colorful music, and it is performed with panache and professionalism by the English forces. But it is nevertheless embarrassingly awful. For many listeners, the interminable speaking parts may be hard to sit through, particularly since the text is so badly written and the message is so baldly jingoistic, and even Elgar's extravagantly colorful scoring and manifestly sincere sentiments may make the musical numbers difficult to sit through. Still, it should interest every sufficiently dedicated Elgarian. Chandos' digital sound is appropriately bold and brassy, with plenty of impact in the big choral-orchestral movements.
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Performance CreditsAndrew Davis Primary Artist
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Although he wrote a number of songs, and the famous oratorios, Elgar did little vocal work for the stage. So this new complete version of the 'Crown of India' masque is a bonanza for fans of British music. The text is nothing great, and was slashed by the composer even as he was setting it, but he judged some of the music good enough to arrange a concert suite; the rest has disappeared till now. This recording offers the entire masque--a paean to The Empire which none but the most fervid Elgarian will play very often--and a second disc with the music cues only (also three lesser-known marches). Anthony Payne, a specialist in completing unfinished Elgar, has produced an orchestration for the movements not used in the suite. Gerald Finley speaks his one bit of verse nicely, and can make you believe every word of his grand solo. Clare Shearer, in the great tradition of British mezzos, utters lovely sounds, and makes utter mud of her words. The orchestra and chorus, under Sir Andrew Davis, perform with conviction, and the sound is fine. Not a musicological revelation, but some fun stuff.