This concert is devoted to British composer Edward Elgar. We will hear major works written later in his life, the cello concert, and his first symphony.
Into the Music begins at 18.30, featuring Ilmari Hopkins.
During the premiere of the cello concert in 1919, Elgar’s wife Alice was present, but she had been in ill health for some time, and she died soon after. Elgar himself directed the premier, but it was not a success: both because of the lack of rehearsal time, and music itself, which seemed much more private and humble than what was typical of a virtuoso solo concert.
Elgar’s cello concert is a very moving work. It opens boldly with a dramatic resonant for solo cello. The second movement is a lighter scherzo. The emotional and passionate Adagio that follows is the emotional center of the concert. The orchestra begins to play more quietly so the cello can sing freely over the accompaniment. The finale is the longest movement, and although it is both energetic and dramatic, we still sense an undertone of sadness.
Unlike the cello concert, Elgar’s first symphony received overwhelming reception at the symphony’s premier in 1908. The symphony can be said to take on lofty topics such as peace, conquest and victory. At the beginning, there is a very long opening motif, which Elgar called a “motto”, as it binds the whole work together.
The outer movements are stormy and convoluted, while the two centers have a striking peculiarity. Second movement is a nervous and busy scherzo – a little march, which also has some playful contrasts. The next movement, Adagio, is the centerpiece of the work, and becomes a resting point with its beautiful finishing touches, where Elgar makes miracles with only three tones on the clarinet. With the grandiose coda in the last movement, the motto returns triumphantly with a bold sound.
Although symphony has great expressive power and high drama, it has no history, Elgar insisted; it does not hold any program except to refer to the experiences of human life with great love and great hope for the future.
Tadaaki Otaka, conductor
Jakob Koranyi, cello
Elgar: Cello Concert
Elgar: Symphony No. 1