Saturday, January 28, 2017

Edward Elgar - Music for Violin & Piano (Nigel Kennedy; Peter Pettinger)


Composer: Edward Elgar
  1. Salut d'Amour, Op. 12
  2. Mot d'Amour, Op. 13 No. 1
  3. Canto Popolare (from "In the South", Op. 50)
  4. Sospiri, Op. 70
  5. Chanson de Nuit, Op. 15 No. 1
  6. Chanson de Martin, Op. 15 No. 2
  7. 6 Very Easy Melodious Exercises in the First Position, Op. 22
  8. Violin Sonata in E minor, Op. 82: I. Allegro
  9. Violin Sonata in E minor, Op. 82: II. Romance. Andante
  10. Violin Sonata in E minor, Op. 82: III. Allegro Non Troppo

Nigel Kennedy, violin
Steven Isserlis, cello (1)
Peter Pettinger, piano

Label: Chandos



The record to choose is the Nigel Kennedy, if only because it has the one major work of Elgar on it, the Violin Sonata. I confess that I had never before heard the work and it was a revelation to me . I wonder if its comparative neglect is because Elgar was such a master of the orchestra and wrote all his greatest works for it so that when the accompaniment is merely a piano one misses the orchestra so much. This, though, is as great a work as the Violin Concerto in its more intimate way, though the way is still thoroughly Elgarian. Nigel Kennedy and Peter Pettinger play it, and everything else on this disc, to perfection.

The rest of the CD is of small pieces and three of them also appear on the Bournemouth Sinfonietta's disc in their orchestral versions. In his note Michael Kennedy (no relation to the violinist) suggests that their arrangement for so many different combinations shows Elgar's closeness with his public. Possibly so: but I think it also shows his continual need of money, especially in the earlier days. Kennedy (Nigel) plays even the Salut d'amour with feeling, yet without sentimentality, let alone soupiness. A gem of a record.

The Sinfonietta's disc is entirely of small pieces and much as one may appreciate each on its own, the best part of an hour of them does not enable one to appreciate their quality as miniature gems, despite Del Mar's advocacy and Chandos's full and warm recording. For oboe-lovers the appearance of Leon Goossens will be a special draw; the record was made in the Guilhall at Southampton in July 1976 when Goossens was 80. The piece, written specially for him by Elgar at the very end of his life and left only in short score by the composer has been orchestrated by Gordon Jacob. It is a very slight piece with the soloist playing very freely in between brief passages of characteristic Elgar: but admirer of Goossens will treasure it nevertheless and wonder that he could play with such mastery at 80 (and after suffering a car accident that damage his lip).


Edward Elgar (2 June 1857 – 23 February 1934) was an English composer. Among his best-known compositions are orchestral works including the Enigma Variations, the Pomp and Circumstance Marches, concertos for violin and cello, and two symphonies. He also composed choral works, including The Dream of Gerontius, chamber music and songs. Elgar has been described as the first composer to take the gramophone seriously. Between 1914 and 1925, he conducted a series of acoustic recordings of his works.


Nigel Kennedy (born 28 December 1956 in Brighton) is a British violinist and violist. He became a pupil at the Yehudi Menuhin School of Music at the age of seven, and later studied at the Juilliard School in New York City with Dorothy DeLay. He made his early career in the classical field, and has more recently performed jazz, klezmer, and other music genres. Kennedy's persona is seen by some as abrasive and limiting to his career.

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