An impossible love and the European Dream

Morning musings. © Charles Thibo

“It’s good! Awfully emotional! Too emotional, but I love it.”  Edward Elgar wrote those lines about his Violin Concerto in B minor, Op. 61. The composer was right. It is emotional. It is very good. And I love it too. A few days ago, I was walking to my car. It was the beginning of a grey and wet day. I had the opening bars of the first movement in the ear and I was thinking about a girl I once loved. It was an impossible love, of course. She lived in the former Soviet Union when we first met; I was still a student. I wrote her long and passionate letters, but she had more common sense than I had. She knew perfectly well she would not leave her country. She studied at a college in her country, her family was poor and she would not travel anywhere.

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Spirit of delight, where are you? I’ve found you.

Yesterday night – back at the Philharmonie de Luxembourg for the new season. © Charles Thibo

Loud, massive, ecstatic, modern. Calm, elegant, majestic, traditional. Frenzy and serenity. A self-portrait? An allegory of life? Between 1909 and 1911 the British composer Edward Elgar wrote an intriguing symphony in E flat major, Op. 63. I heard it yesterday night for the very first time at the Philharmonie de Luxembourg. I did not like it. It was not the orchestra’s fault. I will have to listen to it again. Soon. And then perhaps I will know what to think about it. I have an idea that there is something great hidden in this piece. But I didn’t find it yesterday.

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The countryside gives birth to a mellow cello

mellow_cello
Romantic music often deals with pastoral subjects. © Charles Thibo

Heart-warming music… That’s how I would describe the first movement of this wonderful cello concerto. The British composer Sir Edward Elgar composed his Cello Concerto in E minor, Op. 85 in 1918/19 and it shows how deep the Romantic era had penetrated the composer’s soul. It reminds me of the bittersweet Trio élégiaque written by Sergei Rachmaninov, that I have discussed in a previous post. I have two delightful recordings of Op. 85: One by the Staatskapelle Berlin, conducted by Daniel Barenboim, with Alisa Weilerstein playing the cello solo parts, and one by the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Richard Hickox, with Steven Isserlis on the cello.

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