Tuesday, 19 April 2011
This short intense piece of music, one of Sir Edward Elgar's lesser known works, here beautifully played by Sol Gabetta, an Argentinian of Russian and French parentage, never fails to calm me down in times of anxiety and stress.
It was first conducted by Sir Henry Wood in August 1914 at the Queen's Hall in London, just two weeks before the beginning of the First World War.
Elgar's wife said it was "like a breath of peace on a perturbed world."
David Mellor, playing it on the radio on Remembrance Sunday in 2010, placed it in the context of Elgar's sadness at the coming of war, particularly because of the popularity of his music in Germany. In fact this appears to be a misreading: in 1914 more patriotic music was in vogue; this is more a reflection of the mood of 1918. The more likely explanation is that Elgar wrote this out of love for a lady not his wife, reflecting sadness at their mutual decision to stay with their respective spouses, and significantly the provisional title of the work was Soupir d'Amour .
The technically proficient might like to read this brief description by Phillip Cooke. I just like to listen to it. With his eye for the ladies I think Sir Edward would have appreciated this video too!