Dutton and the Elgar Society issue the third volume in a series of recordings that I enjoy calling "Elgar as they knew him". This CD encompasses choral, instrumental, vocal and orchestral music providing a wide spectrum of interpreters who graced the stage of concert life in the early days of the last century.
The ever intriguing recording of Salut d'amor with "G Jacobs" from 1901 begins the disc and we follow on with some acoustic recordings of Edna Thornton in a 1908 "Land of Hope and Glory" together with a wonderfully alive "From the Bavarian Highlands" with Henry Coward's Sheffield Choir. There are further songs sung by Louise Kirkby Lunn, Tudor Davies and an organ arrangement by the legendary Herbert Dawson.
The electric recordings begin our lunch period with Arthur Catterall and Reginald Paul giving splendidly vivid interpretations of the Chanson de nuit and Chanson de matin, Op. 15. Rarities such as Elgar sung in Swedish also find their way onto disc with Jussi Björling singing Salut d'amor in his own native language.
The great band era of the 30's is recalled by the Foden Motor Work's version of the Severn Suite whilst Charles Kennedy Scott dashes through a short excerpt from "The Banner of St. George". Tea begins with a splendidly involved "Ave verum corpus" by the Westminster Cathedral Choir and is continued by the relaxing Dream Children in genial 1934 recordings by Lawrance Collingwood and the Lpndon Symphony Orchestra.
And finally to the evening's play with Isobelle Baillie and Sir Malcolm sergeant in "The sun goeth down" from "The Kingdom", a swaggering Imperial March from 1946 with Julius Harrison, how different was the Imperial situation from 1911 then, and Heddle Nash's inimitable A Sheperd Song from 1952 ends proceedings in an almost unbearably nostalgic fashion. Like a film of the ghosts of the past, all unfolds before us as in some epic cricket match, an essentially English spirit defines all these splendid recordings of Elgar as these interpreters knew him.
Michael Dutton and the Elgar Society have produced yet another magnificent winner.
Copyright © 2001, Gerald Fenech