A fascinating footnote
Although he wrote a number of songs, and the famous oratorios, Elgar did little vocal work for the stage. So this new complete version of the 'Crown of India' masque is a bonanza for fans of British music. The text is nothing great, and was slashed by the composer even as he was setting it, but he judged some of the music good enough to arrange a concert suite; the rest has disappeared till now. This recording offers the entire masque--a paean to The Empire which none but the most fervid Elgarian will play very often--and a second disc with the music cues only (also three lesser-known marches). [Note: Despite the listing, this *is* a two-disc set!] Anthony Payne, a specialist in completing unfinished Elgar, has produced an orchestration for the movements not used in the suite. Gerald Finley speaks his one bit of verse nicely, and can make you believe every word of his grand solo. Clare Shearer, in the great tradition of British mezzos, utters lovely sounds, and makes utter mud of her words. The orchestra and chorus, under Sir Andrew Davis, perform with conviction, and the sound is fine. Not a musicological revelation, but some fun stuff.
Was this review helpful to you?YESNO