A well timed release of rare Elgar on a disc with very high production values. Elgar unlike fellow composers Vaughan Williams and Butterworth did not see the horrors of the First World War first hand but the impact of Europe tearing itself apart affected him deeply and prompted him to compose some deeply meaningful music to accompany the words of the Belgian poet Emile Cammaerts. Three such pieces are on this disc namely Carillon, Le Drapeau Belge and the poignant Une Voix dans le Desert. In the third piece the optimistic soprano solo beautifully sung by Susan Gritton (from within her cottage surrounded by the horrors of the battlefield) juxtaposed with Cammaerts description of reality wonderfully spoken with true feeling by Simon Callow is very moving.
These three serious pieces are joined by lighter compositions written during the war by Elgar for various projects and help to balance the content of this disc. The ballet "The Sanguine Fan" is light and tuneful. The early Surum Corda rounds off a perfect musical document to accompany the forthcoming centenary of the "War to end all Wars."
The BBC Concert Orchestra under John Wilson play for all they are worth, the recording is out of the top drawer and the booklet an object lesson to others. In short a must for all Elgarians.