Elgar, Delius

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Delius,Elgar
WORKS: Piano Quintet in A minor; Sospiri; The Farm Yard
PERFORMER: Soloists of the LSO; Israela Margalit (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CZS 5 73992 2 Reissue (1996, 1995)
The British symphony has its passionate devotees – so why not British chamber music? If anything, it’s an even richer field. Instead of lamenting the fact that Walton never finished his planned Third Symphony, listen to the fine account of the Violin Sonata by Janice Graham and John Alley and ask yourself why such a bold, sumptuously melodic work hardly ever turns up in recitals. Then try the buoyant, irrepressible Piano Quartet – written when Walton was just 16: it may not be as technically assured as Britten’s solo viola Elegy (also composed at the age of 16), but it’s a lot more likeable – and every bit as prophetic of great things to come. Those who know Elgar’s symphonies but don’t know the chamber works should then hear the splendid performance recorded here – you’ll find it every bit as impressive as the symphonies, with a tender intimacy and weird magic of its own. Britten’s Cello Sonata and the brilliant solo oboe Metamorphoses aren’t rarities – nor should they be; but the violin and piano Suite (a young man’s answer to Stravinsky’s Duo concertant?) is another surprise – witty, edgy, with touches of Mahlerian bitter-sweetness. As for the Delius – a taste that needs more acquiring perhaps, but the Second Violin Sonata at least might convince one or two cynics that there’s more to this composer than syrup and suet. Recordings are up to EMI’s highest standards. Stephen Johnson