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Elgar: Enigma Variations; Serenade for Strings; In the South / Norrington

Album Summary

>Elgar, Edward : In the South (Alassio), Concert Overture, Op. 50
>Elgar, Edward : Introduction and Allegro, for string quartet & string orchestra in G major, Op. 47
>Elgar, Edward : Enigma Variations
Conductor Ensemble Composer

Notes & Reviews:

Edward Elgar's Enigma Variations are undoubtedly his most famous work. Composed in 1899, the 13 variations and finale each represent one of the composer's friends. Identified only by their initials, the public was unable to identify the inspirations and so mystery of the enigmas began. Conducted by Roger Norrington, with a stand-out performance by the RSO Stuttart, what's not a mystery is the artistic brilliance of composer Elgar.

BBC Music Magazine
Norrington captures the humour, the mercurial changes in mood and shading very plausibly. While one may miss the ripe, luxurious sound of a modern string section, the clarity that emerges has a lot to tell us about Elgar's textures - in this, one may well be reminded of Elgar's own recordings.

The Guardian
The SWR RSO is evidently a fine orchestra, but Norrington's insistence on such a chaste string sound inevitably brings a coolness to music that demands more expressive warmth. In other respects, these performances are uncontroversial


Norrington performs Romantic Music - warmly!
This is a superb CD! Those accustomed to interpretations for which Sir Roger Norrington is best known, i.e., works from the Baroque, Classical, and Romantic music performed on period instruments and in the period style, will probably be surprised, as I was, by his recordings of three of Elgar's best-known works.
Fearing the worst for this quintessentially Romantic composer, I anticipated a dry, precise, and clinical approach. Instead, to my delight, Sir Roger delivers what strike me as full-blooded, passionate performances. The "Alassio" Overture contains some splendid timpani work, the "Introduction and Allegro," with a fugue that Elgar himself called "A devil of a fugue," is well performed.
For those unfamiliar with the "Enigma" Variations, it was Elgar's first successful major composition. It presents a still-unsolved mystery - the identity of the unheard theme to which the main theme is a counter melody. Elgar at one point hinted that it might be "Auld Lang Syne," but in later years he refused to discuss it and became angry if questioned about it. In 1990, Denis Stevens wrote that the middle section of "Rule Britannia! " contains the conventionally repeated phrase "never, never, never shall be slaves"; at that point, there is a brief motive which fits the Enigma theme, fast or slow, major or minor. Closer than this we may never get to solving the mystery.
The work comprises a main theme and fourteen variations; each - except the last - portrays one of Elgar's friends. The last depicts Elgar himself.
With so many versions of all three works available on CD, as so often happens, choice will probably depend upon price and what works you wish to purchase at the moment. If you happen to be looking for these three, you can hardly go wrong.
The recorded sound is excellent.
Ted Wilks
Submitted on 08/13/11 by Ted Wilks 
Elgar enchants, embraces, enlightens, endures
Superlatives and exaltations are insufficient to describe the musical beauty that Edward Elgar shared with the world. He believed that music is everywhere, and that we mortals just select what we need from the abundance around us, write it down to share the sounds, and put it back into performance. Combined with the much-loved “Enigma” variations in this performance, the Radio-Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart performs “Alassio, In the South” and “Introduction and Allegro” for Strings. This silken musical tapestry is an exquisite treat for the long-term fan and the new listener alike, a must for the personal CD collection. Listen in concert, put it on as background, use it to accompany a movie, ride in the car or plane with it, fill your being with it---it will absorb you.

The accompanying booklet explains clearly the popular Enigma Variations, with the background and identification of the vignettes. They continue to be interesting, puzzling, and fun.

The Radio-Sinfonierorchester Stuttgart des SWR lives up to its stellar reputation. This CD provides a definitive presentation of easy-to-hear, likely-to-remember orchestral works from one of England’s great composers. The recordings come from live performances in 2007 and 2010; audience applause is a surprise on first hearing.

Sir Roger Norrington appears on a series of covers of CDs he has produced, including this one. As 2011 is his farewell year with the Stuttgart des SWR, his photograph reminds audiences of his work and approaching retirement. The devotee would not mistake Norrington’s picture for that of Edward Elgar.

Elgar epitomizes the best of the Nineteenth/early Twentieth Century music. Information on his life and work, also explained in the booklet, portrays the popularity and prominence of this enduring composer who so willingly shared his talents with the world.

Submitted on 08/30/11 by howsweetthesound 
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Works Details

>Elgar, Edward : In the South (Alassio), Concert Overture, Op. 50
  • Conductor: Roger Norrington
  • Ensemble: Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra
  • Notes: Liederhalle Stuttgart (09/30/2010-10/01/2010)
  • Running Time: 22 min. 40 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 1904

>Elgar, Edward : Introduction and Allegro, for string quartet & string orchestra in G major, Op. 47
  • Conductor: Roger Norrington
  • Ensemble: Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra
  • Notes: Funkstudio des SWR (10/04/2010-10/05/2010)
  • Running Time: 15 min. 49 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Written: 1905

>Elgar, Edward : Enigma Variations
  • Conductor: Roger Norrington
  • Ensemble: Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra
  • Notes: Liederhalle Stuttgart (12/13/2007-12/14/2007)
  • Running Time: 29 min. 39 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Written: 1898-1899