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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece - By Two Composers
When Sir Edward Elgar died in 1934 it was generally believed that the symphony commissioned from him by the BBC died with him. It was known that he had written some sketches but that in total they amounted to little of substance. This was odd since a large proportion of these sketches were printed in facsimile in a book on Elgar, written by one of his friends shortly...
Published on 5 Nov 2003 by Little Mac

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4 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Spot the composer
I expect most listeners to this disc to be like me, non-musicologists, with no copy of the score or Payne's written account of his painstaking reconstruction, just a liking for Elgar's music and a curious ear to hear the completion of this (very) unfinished symphony. In which case they, like me, will find relaxed listening constantly dogged by nagging doubts. At best...
Published on 23 Mar 2000


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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece - By Two Composers, 5 Nov 2003
This review is from: Elgar / Payne - The Sketches for Symphony No. 3 (Audio CD)
When Sir Edward Elgar died in 1934 it was generally believed that the symphony commissioned from him by the BBC died with him. It was known that he had written some sketches but that in total they amounted to little of substance. This was odd since a large proportion of these sketches were printed in facsimile in a book on Elgar, written by one of his friends shortly after his death. Some parts were already fully scored and many other parts were detailed and specific about Elgar's intentions; yet they caused little interest in the musical community at large, perhaps because Elgar had written nothing of major significance since the death of his wife in 1920 - so what would a handful of sketches contain? The few specialists who did show any inclination to do anything with the sketches were denied the opportunity since the Elgar family wanted to respect the composer's dying wish not to allow anyone to "tinker" with his symphony.
However, in 1995, realising that in ten years time the copyright on the sketches would expire, the family commissioned Anthony Payne, a composer, musicologist and Elgar enthusiast, to use the sketches to construct the symphony Elgar might have written. Payne worked with intensity and excitement, piecing together the "jigsaw" fragments and filling in where necessary.
The completed work, described as "The Sketches for Symphony no.3 elaborated by Anthony Payne" was performed for the first time in public in February 1998 by the BBC Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Andrew Davis to massive critical acclaim. These same forces had recorded the work two months earlier for the NMC label and the recording was released later in 1998.
The work could have been a complete flop in the hands of someone less in tune with Elgar's idiom; yet Payne knows the composer's voice so well that it is impossible to detect which passages are fully Elgar's, which are elaborations of sketches and which are Payne's own invention. The work feels a completely satisfying whole, a product of Elgar's assured mastery and maturity. From the massive, grinding opening to the magical closing pages there are no weak or tentative passages - indeed the level of inspiration puts the symphony on a par with the first two that Elgar wrote; in many ways it has the weight and character of the Second. The first movement contains one of those supremely beautiful melodies that Elgar wrote so well (rather like the "Windflower" theme in the Violin Concerto) while the delicate Scherzo is sheer delight, reminiscent of the Wand of Youth Suites. The slow movement has a solemn intensity and the finale takes us back to the Elgar of the march with echoes of Cockaigne thrown in for good measure.
Naxos recorded the symphony in 1999, releasing it as the 2000th disc on their label. You would think that the NMC recording, bearing the stamp of authenticity, would be a hard act to follow. But the Bournemouth orchestra, steered expertly by Paul Daniel, play magnificently as though completely familiar with a work only completed two years earlier. As the recording is full and spacious, in no way inferior to the NMC and the insert notes very detailed, this disc should be on the shelves of all who love Elgar's music. P>The Third Symphony has been lucky on disc there is a recent recording on the LSO Live label conducted by Sir Colin Davis, which was well received by the critics. I have all three recordings but the one I play most often, and gain the greatest pleasure from, is the Naxos.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Symphony No.3 at its most spellbinding, 3 Feb 2008
By 
Philoctetes (England) - See all my reviews
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I've been able to hear both Davises and Daniel conduct this (new) Elgar symphony, on record. To my mind, it is Andrew Davis and the BBCSO who make the strongest case for a work left only as sketches by the great composer and much elaborated by Anthony Payne. Theirs is the best recorded and most profoundly moving, even hypnotic account; far surpassing the rival recordings on Naxos and LSO Live.

The first movement is a mighty episode, its rousing theme unforgettable, like the chariot parade in Ben Hur. The cut of the following two movements put me in mind of Shostakovich's Leningrad Symphony; poignant allegretto followed by tragic adagio, with a confident allegro to finish. Not that this is tumultuous war music from Elgar; rather, there is sincere nostalgia, glad-tidings, regret and sorrow but real optimism as well. Beautiful dreams, maybe, but a place to start nonetheless.

Strongly recommended.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Addictive, 22 Mar 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Elgar / Payne - The Sketches for Symphony No. 3 (Audio CD)
Does it really matter which bits are Elgar and which are Payne? This is a glorious piece of music and a super recording. The sublime second subject of the first movement (Elgar's own, incidentally!) is enough to justify the purchase. Forget the why's, wherefore's, rights and wrongs of the piece: just enjoy the music!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very satisfying bargain version almost as good as the Davis performance, 1 April 2011
By 
Ralph Moore "Ralph operaphile" (Bishop's Stortford, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Elgar / Payne - The Sketches for Symphony No. 3 (Audio CD)
Having just reviewed the NMC disc which was the first recording of this "elaboration" of Elgar's sketches by Anthony Payne I wanted to hear this bargain Naxos version for purposes of comparison. I have to say that they are not so very different; timings are virtually identical (except in the Scherzo, where Daniel is considerably zippier) but differences there are which sway me slightly in favour of the first account.

First, it seems to me that in the first movement Paul Daniel does not quite secure the surging grandeur that Davis achieves. Daniel takes a nervier, more fluid tack and doesn't quite nail the big moments as Davis does. I prefer, too, Davis's more hesitant, mysterious approach to the fluttering Spanish-fan figure in the Scherzo, although it is true that this slightly repetitive movement could be said to outstay its welcome when taken more leisurely. Again, in the Adagio solenne, Davis brings greater weight and melancholy to the noble, opening theme and achieves a more poignant effect than Daniel, who is a bit perfunctory, in the gentle, pulsing passage beginning around four minutes in with its singing violas, sighing harps, and a plaintive solo clarinet. Both are tender in the concluding fade-out. In the final movement, Davis's restraint exposes its structural weaknesses more than Daniel's propulsion. It could be argued that Daniel has the more unified, symphonic overview and his brisker, tauter phrasing holds the music together better than Davis's more relaxed and affectionate manner.

I could imagine this music played with more luscious tone than either orchestra in question generates but it is noticeable that the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra is the more deficient in warmth in the strings, which are at times a little thin and edgy. However, like the greater prominence given to the tambourine by the Naxos engineers. Anyone who has this Naxos version need not rush to exchange it for any other and anyone who wants to hear how successfully Payne has rescued some wonderful music will not be disappointed. If you buy it on Amazon marketplace it can be had virtually for the cost of the postage. It is a coherent, worthy and very satisfying account.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unmistakably Elgarian and no mere pastiche, 27 Mar 2011
By 
Ralph Moore "Ralph operaphile" (Bishop's Stortford, UK) - See all my reviews
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While this completion of Elgar's manuscript sketches may not be a masterpiece and is, to a large extent, the fruits of "educated guesswork and intuition" there is much in it which is redolent of genuine Elgarian inspiration and it would be ungrateful in the extreme to be snarky about Anthony Payne's labour of love. He modestly calls it an elaboration, a term taken to interpretative limits by his borrowing a haunting, repeated theme from the "The Wagon Passes" in "The Nursery Suite" which Elgar had recently completed before embarking on the symphony.

The test is how much of this music is moving and memorable and returning to this disc after an interval of some ten years I was struck by how much of it I recalled and was newly moved by. Despite the inevitable impression of the symphony lacking some cohesion, there are some uniquely beautiful fragments in each movement such as the angular, muscular first subject which opens the symphony and the equally typical, melting second subject with its falling intervals. The Scherzo has a delicate, crepuscular Spanish atmosphere reminding us that Elgar had an affinity with Latin sensuousness to complement his bristly British sturdiness. Best of all, I think is the Adagio featuring a noble brass theme combined with a Mahlerian breadth and tenderness. I concur with other commentators that the last movement is a mite ramshackle; a rumbustious martial tune melds awkwardly into a rather repetitive development before the allegro marches into a more reflective, "new, visionary world".

The BBC Symphony Orchestra plays well under Andrew Davis although I was conscious that they made more of the dreamier moments than those which called for more fire and passion. I have not yet heard Paul Daniel's account for Naxos and wonder if that has more spark, but find much to enjoy and admire in this very welcome and courageous performance.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent recording of an afterword, 10 July 2009
By 
Mondoro (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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A top flight performance of a work that has attracted a great deal of attention ever since Payne's broadcast on the sketches in 1995. It sounds authentically Elgarian, with familar procedures such as the composer's sequential figures and employment of angular intervals. The issues for Elgarians will be in assessing what Payne has brought to the music, and whether this goes beyond the sketches themselves. And there is the added question of what the symphony would have amounted to had the composer lived to complete it. Would it have reached the quality of the other two symphonies? Knowing what we do of Elgar's waning powers after the death of his wife and the final glories of the Cello Concerto and the chamber works following the war, this seems unlikely.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Elgar (and Payne's) 'Symphony No.3', 20 Aug 2012
By 
Dr. H. A. Jones "Howard Jones" (Wales, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Elgar / Payne - The Sketches for Symphony No. 3 (Audio CD)
This is a performing edition elaborated by Anthony Payne of sketches for a third symphony left by Edward Elgar at his death in 1934. It is played by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra conducted by Paul Daniel. Some of this music originated with the unfulfilled third part of a choral trilogy that brought into being the oratorios The Apostles and The Kingdom. After the war years and the death of his wife Alice, Elgar created three chamber works and a cello concerto. Elgar was spurred into composition of a more substantial piece again in the closing years of his life by encouragement from George Bernard Shaw and he received a formal commission for the piece from the BBC in 1932.

Anthony Payne is a composer, writer and musicologist and he has done a fine job in producing something cohesive sounding very Elgarian as we know it from his earlier works.
Payne has worked the material into a conventional four-movement symphony with the Scherzo placed second. The third movement adagio is particularly moving and there are echos of the funeral march for Edward VII in the 2nd symphony. Quite an interesting and satisfying work - but only Elgar himself could have risen to the heights of the first two symphonies. However, there is perhaps not enough material to warrant a symphony lasting 55 minutes. This is my favourite recording of the work: I feel the structure is more evident here than in the recording by Andrew Davis with the BBC Symphony Orchestra. I have never heard the Colin Davis/LSO interpretation.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Okay so it's not Elgar, but so what?, 27 Mar 2002
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This review is from: Elgar / Payne - The Sketches for Symphony No. 3 (Audio CD)
If the alternative to this elaboration of Elgar's sketches is no elaboration at all, then I'm all for it.
Music is a living dynamic force and there's no excuse for boxing it into little squares. This is a collaboration, it's advertised as one, and no, it is *not* Elgar's Third symphony any more. It's contemporary, it's vibrant and it works.
I'd be interested to hear the efforts of any other composer to interpret Elgar's last work - but no doubt this is the only one which will be available for the near future.
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4.0 out of 5 stars lively mongrel, 29 May 2014
By 
Andrew C. Mitchell (Manchester, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Elgar / Payne - The Sketches for Symphony No. 3 (Audio CD)
This is a fine work by Sir Edward Elgar and Anthony Payne. The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra under Paul Daniel make a success of the music with good sectional playing. The first movement makes a great impression. In the Scherzo I find a tiny bit of the percussion writing irritating - a bit like a dentist's drill. The Adagio solenne third movement has a touch of Elgarian nostalgia. I really like the final movement and conclusion that Anthony Payne makes for this symphony and am convinced of the virtue of his decisions where there is very little Elgar to go on. I am happy that this symphony is coherent throughout whilst written by two people. I am pleased to recommend this lively mongrel.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Nice music, 24 Mar 2014
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I have always loved this work ever since I heard about it in '95.
I would love to find P&Cmarch 6
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Elgar / Payne - The Sketches for Symphony No. 3
Elgar / Payne - The Sketches for Symphony No. 3 by Anthony Payne (Audio CD - 2000)
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