Customer Review

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Difficult Listening- even for Elgarians! But with some reward, 22 April 2006
This review is from: The Sketches, Drafts And Recordings Of His Piano Concerto (Audio CD)
This is a difficult piece to get your head around: the concept is strange enough- an original 'Elgar' concerto derived from the abortive sketches, recorded improvisations and a more or less complete slow movement. Get beyond that idea and you're confronted with a work which has strong Elgarian content but none of the easy logic of either of the other 'true' Elgar concertos.

The precedent was set by Anthony Payne when he made his superb elaboration (completion) of the Third Symphony sketches: Such a fine job in fact that there is nothing to show the symphony as anything other than the real deal from the hands of the master. In this concerto Robert Walker has had the same role in bringing the piece to fruition and the work as we have it here is of normal concerto length. The CD booklet is at pains to indicate that, unlike the Third Symphony, almost all the Piano Concerto materials are Elgar's own.

This doesn't mean that the process was plain sailing. Walker, together with the soloist David Owen Norris have had several attempts at refining the score, including a disastrous outing at the Three Choirs Festival where the Piano Concerto was nearly 50 minutes long (the recording of that version of the piece has not been released.....):Hence more than the usual blood,sweat and tears!

Add into the mixture, just to complicate matters, Elgar's own ambivalence towards the piano. He was hardly a virtuoso on the keyboard (but he was'nt a virtuouso cellist either, yet still managed to produce the cellists' favourite concerto...)and his piano playing was described as indiosyncratic and 'orchestral', implying that he primarily used the instrument to try out various tone colours when composing. His compositions for solo piano are few and tend to be miniatures, though he did record several 'improvisations' straight to wax in 1930: Owen Norriss makes a convincing case for these being rather more through-composed than might at first be imagined, and fitting together with various sketches make a more wholehearted attempt at a Piano Concerto on Elgar's part than could previously have been discerned.

I have to say that this work is not likely to hit the mark on a single hearing. I am not convinced that the concerto, as recorded, makes the full leap into life that the Third Symphony does. However, the piece does become clearer with repeated listening, and it and I have reached an understanding over numerous hearings.

Perhaps it does not work so well because the piano part is not as demonstrative or sharply defined as the Violin or Cello Concertos: we can be thankful for the thematic material (including a Third Symphony theme), which is as vigorous and strong as anything in the established Elgar canon.

I do not believe, despite his involvement in the gestation of this work, that Owen Norris is as powerful a pianist as this music demands to make a true impact: we must wait and see if any other pianist takes up the challenge.In support, David Lloyd Jones and the BBC Concert Orchestra play with full conviction.

The accompanying programme provides Elgar afficionados with a few valuable rarities but the one real gem is Anthony Collins' impressive and moving 'Elegy for Elgar' written in 1942. The piece uses a thematic fragment from the Third Symphony as the basis for a taut and deeply-felt symphonic movement. A pity Collins did not write more in this vein.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines ">here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking on the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in


Sort: Oldest first | Newest first
Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 31 Mar 2013 10:59:30 BDT
I really like this recording. It has elements of music in the late 1920s/early 1930s which is perfect for the period Elgar was working on parts of the score.
‹ Previous 1 Next ›

Review Details


3.7 out of 5 stars (3 customer reviews)
5 star:    (0)
4 star:
3 star:
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
Add to basket Add to wishlist

Location: Horley, Surrey UK

Top Reviewer Ranking: 6,334