Below is a link to a wonderfully provocative article by the conductor
Sakari Oramo on Edward Elgar. It's provocative because he assesses
Elgar in completely fresh terms. Says Oramo,
"I can't help but wonder if recordings of Elgar's music by the
great British conductors have inadvertently led to this sad fate,
whether Sargent's heavy sentimentality, Boult's stoic stodginess
or Barbirolli's operatic fury were inappropriate starting points.
I feel the greatest respect towards these musicians, but I believe
that in letting their own personalities preside over Elgar's
they did a disservice to his music.....A very different picture
emerges if you listen to Elgar's recordings of his own
performances.....in every single case they present a unified
image of his conducting: fleet and flowing, very focused on the
overall musical line, subtle in colours, impulsive and elusive
- not at all what emerges under other, later batons......
"I believe the problems with Elgar's reception abroad lie partly
in the view that Europeans, and to some extent Americans, have
come to hold about the English, especially their upper classes.
Somehow, in the eyes of these foreigners, the composer of Land
of Hope and Glory has ended up as a representative of those
classes, and so embodies all the cliches that they see as
undesirable in the English: isolationism, dullness, that stiff
upper lip and emotional constipation. (ironically Elgar wasn't
upper class but very much an outsider) ... what his music now
needs are high-profile foreign champions and exponents, both
among performers and scholars. I firmly believe that the only
way for Elgar's music to survive internationally is to free it
from the burdens of its past performance traditions."
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