As the present principal conductor of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, Sakari Oramo has chosen works by Edward Elgar, a composer whose music he has been a fervent advocate of since his tenure at the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Oramo’s commitment to Elgar has been rewarded with a medal of honour from the British Elgar Society.
Daniel Barenboim continues his acclaimed Elgar series with the landmark First Symphony. These new issues mark the first time that indefatigable maestro Barenboim has returned to recording Elgar’s symphonic works since the 1970s.
This recording is the latest step in maestro Barenboim’s Elgarian journey with the Berlin Staatskapelle, following on from well-received performances of Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius, the Cello Concerto (recorded live with Alisa Weilerstein for Decca), and Elgar’s Second Symphony – about which the Guardian wrote: “The surging, unquenchable energy of this account is obvious from the opening bars, which are borne on an irresistible flood of sound from the Berlin Staatskapelle
It was during the winter of 1900–01 that Elgar began to sketch what he hoped would turn into a symphony – his first. But the sketches were quickly absorbed into several shorter pieces, one of which was the Cockaigne overture. Although composed in the rural area of the Malvern Hills, the work is nevertheless an unashamedly populist portrait of ‘old London town’, complete with references to whistling errand boys and a marching band – the composer himself described the music as ‘cheerful and Londony’.