VIDEO PODCAST: Discussion about Bernard Haitink (1929-2021), Salzburg, Roger Doyle's Finnegans Wake Project, the English Symphony Orchestra, the Chopin Competition Warsaw, Los Angeles Opera and other subjects in our hour-long November 2021 video.
The late Patric Standford may have written these short pieces deliberately to provoke our feedback. If so, his success is reflected in the rich range of readers' comments appearing at the foot of most of the pages.
The doyen of British composers, Edward Elgar, was born on 2 June 1857 at Broadheath in Worcestershire. His rise to prominence in English music did not come overnight, rather by slow steps which inched towards the Enigma Variations. The success of that was the true start of his musical emancipation and the great works which followed at regular intervals until the Cello Concerto. He died in Worcester on 23 February 1934.
CD Spotlight. Simply Irresistible - Gerald Fenech listens to two albums of British music. '... an inspiration for other composers ...'
CD Spotlight. Solace to Listeners - Patrick Maxwell listens to a box set of John Barbirolli's Elgar recordings for Warner Classics. '... a musical artefact which still tells us how Britain's most famous composer really can sound like ...'
CD Spotlight. Incomparable Musical Beauty - Gerald Fenech listens to Elgar's 'The Dream of Gerontius' from Carnegie Hall. '... a precious addition to this acclaimed treasure trove of historic recordings ...'
Ensemble. Changing Moods - Mike Wheeler listens to a talk about, then a performance of, Elgar's Symphony No 1
Ensemble. A Splendid Achievement - Fareed Curmally listens to the Chamber Orchestra of the Symphony Orchestra of India
Ensemble. A Year Late - Keith Bramich pays a visit to the Three Choirs Festival
Classical music news - The English Music Festival - The Sussex-based festival plays its part in the return to music-making in the UK with an Autumn Festival on 9 and 20 October 2020
Classical music news. The Elgar Festival - An annual celebration of the great British composer takes place in Worcester and Malvern, UK, during May
Classical music news. Frutillar Music Weeks - The Municipal Symphonic Orchestra of Copiapó gives a spectacular concert at Chile's most important classical music event
120 Years Ago - A snapshot of the musical world at the turn of the twentieth century, by George Colerick
CD Spotlight. Sparkingly Virtuosic - Kim Cook plays music for cello and orchestra by Elgar, Schumann, Dvořák and Strauss, recommended by Geoff Pearce. 'The soloist, when she enters, is authoritative, warm and very sure footed, and reveals what a remarkable artist she is.'
A Call to Action - George Colerick discusses early Romanticism, with particular reference to Schubert, the piano, Schumann and the development of the symphony orchestra
CD Spotlight. Triumphant Splendour - Gerald Fenech commends the reissue of Roger Norrington's recording of Elgar's Symphony No 1 with the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra. '... Norrington conveys the sweep of the score spontaneously in one breath and takes his players on a headlong ride to the finish which is simply spinetingling.'
CD Spotlight. A Fine Start - American recordings of Elgar, heard by Gerald Fenech. '... considering today's technological excellence, this issue is strictly for collectors with a nostalgia for the past.'
Ensemble. Something Really Special - Bliss, Elgar and Vaughan Williams from Sheku Kanneh-Mason, Elizabeth Watts, Martyn Brabbins and the BBC Symphony Orchestra, heard by Mike Wheeler
You spotted snakes - George Colerick muses on incidental music, with particular regard to Mendelssohn
Ensemble. A Musical and Social Bonanza - Roderic Dunnett continues his in-depth review of this year's Three Choirs Festival in Hereford
Ensemble. A Natural Assurance - Monteverdi and Elgar from the Three Choirs Festival at Hereford impress Roderic Dunnett
Ensemble. A New Venture - Mike Wheeler listens to Brahms, Elgar, Haydn, Parry, Philip Moore, Purcell, Rutter, Stanford and Vivaldi from Derby Cathedral Choir
CD Spotlight. Spiritual Fervour - Music by Elgar for chorus and orchestra, recommended by Gerald Fenech. 'Highly enjoyable Elgar superbly recorded and performed.'
Ensemble. Aural Perspective - A visit from Osnabrück by the Marienkantorei, for Elgar, Rheinberger and Mendelssohn, heard by Mike Wheeler
CD Spotlight. Adeptly Handled - String Quartets by Elgar and Delius, heard by Stephen Francis Vasta. 'From the soft yet unified opening attack, we know that the Villiers Quartet will serve the score well.'
Ensemble. A Deep Impression - Less well-known music for oboe and piano played by James Turnbull and Libby Burgess, appreciated by Mike Wheeler
Ensemble. A Serious Miscalculation - Music for choir and saxophone, heard by Mike Wheeler
Ensemble. A Worthy Successor - Tomáš Netopil steps in to conduct the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra in Nottingham, impressing Mike Wheeler
Ensemble. Richly Sonorous - Derby Bach Choir joins forces with Derventio Brass for music by Schütz, Bruckner, Elgar, Walton, Parry, Monteverdi and Rutter, heard by Mike Wheeler
Ensemble. Centres of Excellence - Roderic Dunnett looks back to the 2017 Three Choirs Festival at Worcester, and forward to 2018 in Hereford
Ensemble. A Joy to Hear - Michael Foyle and Maksim Stsura play Beethoven, Franck and Elgar, impressing Mike Wheeler
Ensemble. A Unified Whole - Mark Bebbington joins the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Barry Wordsworth for John Ireland's Piano Concerto, heard by Mike Wheeler
CD Spotlight. Varied Indeed - Music for military band and chorus, enjoyed by Gerald Fenech. '... some great off-the-beaten track items that deserve to be heard more often.'
CD Spotlight. Winds of Change - Edward Gardner conducts Elgar, heard by Gerald Fenech. 'Edward Gardner gives revelatory accounts of both works, always keeping in check the emotional element, but when the occasion warrants, he lets the music sweep us off our feet.'
Ensemble. Admirably Clear - Elgar, Grieg and Walton from soloists, Nottingham Harmonic Choir, Rory Macdonald and the Hallé Orchestra, reviewed by Mike Wheeler
Ensemble. Splendidly Lucid - Elgar, Weber, Tchaikovsky and more from Julian Bliss, Mark Elder and the Hallé Orchestra, reported by Mike Wheeler
Ensemble. An Attractive Sound-world - Mike Wheeler listens to the Thorne Trio
Ensemble. The Treasured Crown - Roderic Dunnett reports in depth on last month's Three Choirs Festival at Gloucester
Ensemble. An Attractive Programme - Baroque music and English string classics from the Northern Chamber Orchestra, reviewed by Mike Wheeler
Ensemble. Deliciously Romanticised - Keith Bramich attends the first evening concert of the 2016 Gloucester Three Choirs Festival
Ensemble. Creative Achievements - A seventieth birthday concert for Alexander Knapp, reviewed by Malcolm Miller
CD Spotlight. Spectacular Virtuosity - Benjamin Nicholas plays Elgar for organ, recommended by Gerald Fenech. '... thought-provoking insights ...'
Ensemble. A Winner - Derby Choral Union's anniversary concert, heard by Mike Wheeler
Ensemble. Particularly Sombre - Mark Elder and the Hallé Orchestra commemorate The Battle of the Somme, heard by Mike Wheeler
CD Spotlight. Immensely Responsive - The Choir of Merton College, Oxford, recommended by Gerald Fenech. '... beautifully moulded lines ...'
Ensemble. 'Fantasia' Around The World - Giuseppe Pennisi visits the big screen in Rome
Ensemble. A Gripping Account - Derby Bach Choir sings Elgar's 'The Dream of Gerontius', and impresses Mike Wheeler
Ensemble. Sensitive Handling - Brahms, Elgar and Beethoven from the Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra impress Mike Wheeler
CD Spotlight. Organ transcriptions - Vocal music by Wagner and Elgar, heard by Geoff Pearce. 'Sarah Rose Taylor's voice is warm and creamy.'
CD Spotlight. Sonic Distinction - The British vocal octet Voces8, heard by the late Howard Smith. '... a luminous selection of pieces spanning over four hundred years ...'
Ensemble. Quite Stunning - The 2015 Three Choirs Festival, enjoyed by Roderic Dunnett
Ensemble. Understated Power - Roderick Williams and Susie Allan at the Buxton Festival impress Mike Wheeler
CD Spotlight. Utmost Pleasure - English music for strings, praised by Howard Smith. '... a gorgeous new release from Naxos ...'
CD Spotlight. Heartfelt Effect - Elgar from Petrenko and the RLPO, appreciated by Howard Smith. '... our Liverpool Orchestra is every bit the equal of its fine London counterparts ...'
Ensemble. Highly Successful - Roderic Dunnett looks back to Worcester's 2014 Three Choirs Festival, and forward to Hereford's Festival in July 2015
Ensemble. Bringing Together - Roderic Dunnett visits James MacMillan's Cumnock Tryst
Sparkling Performances - Organist Roy Massey visits Derby Cathedral, heard by Mike Wheeler
Ensemble. Consummate Professionalism - Nigel Ogden begins Derby Cathedral's series of summer organ recitals, heard by Mike Wheeler
Ensemble. Fourteen People and a Dog - Brits in Rome, heard by Giuseppe Pennisi
CD Spotlight. Stylistic Outsiders - An exquisite performance of Elgar's Violin Sonata, heard by Andrew Schartmann. '... no amount of writing can do justice to the last three tracks on this disc.'
Ensemble. Cogent Achievements - Peter Maxwell Davies' tenth symphony and other British music, heard by Roderic Dunnett
Ensemble. Deep Expression - Mozart, Mendelssohn and Elgar from the Cleveland Orchestra, heard by Suzanne Torrey
Ensemble. Deeply Satisfying - John Wilson conducts the CBSO, heard by Mike Wheeler
CD Spotlight. Rare Provenance - Sue Addison plays Elgar's own trombone, heard by Howard Smith. 'Recommended without hesitation.'
Admirable Clarity - Andrew Kirk at the organ of Derby Cathedral, heard by Mike Wheeler
Ensemble. Profoundly Moving - Sibelius and Elgar from Mark Elder and the Hallé Orchestra, heard by Mike Wheeler
Ensemble. Deeply Moving - Handel, Elgar and Mahler, heard by Mike Wheeler
Ensemble. Deeply Sensitive - Mike Wheeler listens to the European Union Chamber Orchestra
CD Spotlight. Inescapably Attentive - British music for piano duo, heard by Howard Smith. '... Mercury emerges with captivating ethereal qualities.'
Ensemble. A Splendid Violinist - Peter Fisher's 'Music from the Movies', enjoyed by Bill Newman
CD Spotlight. Special Enchantment - Richard Hickox's 'Light of Life' impresses Howard Smith. '... Chandos/Hickox win hands down.'
Ensemble. An Inspired Choice - Benjamin Ellin, Elgar, Grieg, Dvorák and Janácek from Mark Elder, Jamie Phillips and the Hallé Orchestra, reviewed by Mike Wheeler
Ensemble. Mercurial Accounts - The Hallé Orchestra begins celebrating its ten year residency in Nottingham, heard by Mike Wheeler
CD Spotlight. Glorious Singing - A recital by Alice Coote and Graham Johnson, heard by Gerald Fenech. '... interpreted with great zest and passion ...'
A Challenging Listen - Peter Gould at the organ of Derby Cathedral, heard by Terence Bennett
Ensemble. The Finest of Them All - The 2012 Hereford Three Choirs Festival, reviewed by Roderic Dunnett
Seamless Precision - Mike Wheeler listens to Daniel Moult at the organ of Derby Cathedral
Ensemble. Incandescent Performance - Nigel Kennedy with the Royal Philharmonic and Andrew Litton, heard by Mike Wheeler
Ensemble. Mysterious Thresholds - Elgar's 'Dream of Gerontius' at Harrow School moves Robert Anderson
Ensemble. Superb Control - Wagner, Bruch and Elgar in Nottingham, enjoyed by Mike Wheeler
DVD Spotlight. Dignity and Impudence - A recital on Exeter Cathedral's organ, enjoyed by Gerald Fenech. '... Millington on fine form ...'
Ensemble. Thrilling Singing - Elgar and Duruflé with a surprise soloist, heard by Mike Wheeler
Ensemble. Exciting Teamwork - Roderic Dunnett was in Worcester for the 2011 Three Choirs Festival
Consummate Artists - Malcolm Troup reports on the BPSE Summer Festival at London's Regent Hall, where for the first time Music, not consumerism, called the shots
Structural Thinking - Recitals on the organ at Derby Cathedral by Andrew Dewar, David Briggs and Anthony Hammond, heard by Mike Wheeler
CD Spotlight. Joining Forces - British Art Songs, heard by George Balcombe. '... a strong affinity ...'
DVD Spotlight. A Common Objective - The Ramallah Concert, recommended by Ron Bierman. '... a tremendous, emotional, not-to-be-missed experience.'
CD Spotlight. Seductive Lyricism - Walton and Barber Violin Concertos, heard by Robert Anderson. 'Bowes is wonderfully convincing on all counts.'
CD Spotlight. Haunting Beauty - Britten song cycles, heard by Robert Anderson. 'Nothing can detract from the magic ...'
Ask Alice - Technology and music, plus Elgar in Lowestoft, with classical music agony aunt Alice McVeigh
Malcolm Smith (1932-2011) - A celebration, not an obituary, by Bill Newman
An Ever-Active Hive - Robert Anderson examines the latest score from Acuta Music
Ensemble. Highly Promising - Brahms, Beethoven, Kreisler and Elgar from Chee-Yun, Sebrina Maria Alfonso and the South Florida Symphony Orchestra, heard by Lawrence Budmen
Ensemble. Much to Enjoy - Johannes Goritzki and Julian Jacobson at London's Royal College of Music, heard by Robert Anderson
Ensemble. Searing Eloquence - A centenary performance of Elgar's Violin Concerto, heard by Robert Anderson
A Golden Treasury - Havergal Brian on European and American music, read by Patric Standford
CD Spotlight. Ingeniously Crafted - Orchestral music by Donald Tovey, heard by Stephen Francis Vasta. '... the Malmö Opera Orchestra plays handsomely for George Vass.'
Ensemble. Hugely Satisfying - As New Zealand arts funding strikes a sour note, Howard Smith listens to the Vector Wellington Orchestra
CD Spotlight. Sheer Delight - Table music by Biber, recommended by Patric Standford. '... a superb and sensitive performance ...'
Ensemble. Top Class Musicianship - Roderic Dunnett visits Gloucester for the 2010 Three Choirs Festival
Highly Characterful - Tom Corfield plays Whitlock, Howells, Messiaen, Bach and Peeters, heard by Mike Wheeler
Most Welcome - The first edition of two Elgar movements for oboe quartet, reviewed by Robert Anderson
Ensemble. Performance to Cherish - Lawrence Budmen submits a further report from the Tanglewood Festival 2010
CD Spotlight. Elgar and Bax - A sepia album from World War I, heard by George Balcombe. '... intense emotion, beautifullly replicated ...'
Much Augmented - A new score of Elgar's 'Arthur', perused by Robert Anderson
Ensemble. A Sensitive Account - Choral music by Rossini, Elgar and Handel, reviewed by Mike Wheeler
Ensemble. Charm and Elan - Vladimir Ashkenazy, Ingrid Fliter and the Cleveland Orchestra, heard by Lawrence Budmen
CD Spotlight. Joyously Guiltfree - Haydn's 'Creation', heard by Robert Anderson. 'Haydn is on top form throughout ...'
Ask Alice - A cello, a mechanic and a funeral, with classical music agony aunt Alice McVeigh
CD Spotlight. A Forthright Approach - J S Bach's St Matthew Passion, recommended by Howard Smith. '... the Ex Cathedra performance is a triumph.'
CD Spotlight. Invigoratingly Natural - Van Beinum conducts Mahler, recommended by Howard Smith. '... a tad less frenetic ...'
Ask Alice - The most beautiful sound in the world, with classical music agony aunt Alice McVeigh
Ensemble. Crystalline Lightness - A Symphony of the Americas concert, reviewed by Lawrence Budmen
Ask Alice - On delusions, fruitcakes and the Elgar Cello Concerto, with classical music agony aunt Alice McVeigh
A Model of Clarity - A new score of Elgar's 'Mina', appraised by Robert Anderson
Ensemble. Particularly Memorable - Elgar, Rachmaninov and Sibelius from the Hallé Orchestra, enjoyed by Mike Wheeler
Bizarre Perception - Alistair Hinton discusses a recent article on English music by David Hamilton
Ensemble. Sing ye to the Lord - Roderic Dunnett was at the 2009 Hereford Three Choirs Festival
Lively Characterisation - An organ recital by Ian Tracey, heard by Mike Wheeler
Ensemble. Clarity of Texture - Lawrence Budmen listens to the Remenyi Ede Chamber Orchestra
A Useful Survey - Thomas May's 'The John Adams Reader', reviewed by Mike Wheeler
Ensemble. Splendidly Varied - Thomas Trotter at the organ of Derby Cathedral, heard by Mike Wheeler
A Natural Aristocrat - 'Cardus - Celebrant of Beauty' by Robin Daniels, reviewed by Robert Anderson
Ensemble. Excellent Throughout - A lunchtime piano recital by Maiko Mori, heard by Bill Newman
CD Spotlight. Deceptive Naturalness - Red Priest's 'Nightmare in Venice', entertains Howard Smith. '... irrepressible, chic ...'
CD Spotlight. Essentially Lyrical - Hindemith viola sonatas, reviewed by Robert Anderson. '... a committed and convincing performance throughout.'
A Major Pleasure - A new study score of Elgar's 'Empire March', reviewed by Robert Anderson
Ensemble. Meltingly Beautiful - Joshua Bell joins Vladimir Ashkenazy and the New World Symphony for music by Saint-Saëns and Mahler, reviewed by Lawrence Budmen
CD Spotlight. A Broader Canvas - Chamber music by Sibelius, enjoyed by Robert Anderson. '... fresh and unfamiliar music, put across with such conviction ...'
Record Box. Richly Moving - Jamie Walton plays Shostakovich, recommended by Alice McVeigh
Record Box. Playful Scope - Marc-André Hamelin's Chopin delights Robert Anderson
CD Spotlight. Pride of Place - Piano music by Frank Bridge, praised by Howard Smith. 'A standing ovation for Mark Bebbington ...'
Ensemble. Compact and Imaginative - Judith Bingham's 'Shakespeare Requiem' receives its first performance, heard by Patric Standford
Record Box. An Eloquent Interpretation - Choral music by Karol Szymanowski, enjoyed by Robert Anderson
Ensemble. Deeply Thoughtful - Byrd, Vaughan Williams, Parry and Elgar from the Sitwell Singers, heard by Mike Wheeler
Scrupulously Done - Andrew Barnett's 'Sibelius', read by Robert Anderson
Ensemble. A Bright Future - Malcolm Miller was at the final night of the 2008 BBC Proms in London
Book Review. A Lordly Survey - Nick Strimple's 'Choral Music in the Nineteenth Century', reviewed by Robert Anderson
Youthful Freshness - Gareth Green gives the final organ recital in Derby Cathedral's summer series, and Mike Wheeler was in the audience
CD Spotlight. Virtuoso Credentials - Music for viola and piano by York Bowen, reviewed by Robert Anderson. '... above praise.'
Record Box. Particular Sensitivity - Chamber music and songs by William Alwyn, reviewed by Patric Standford
Ensemble. A Singing Style - Violinist Jack Liebeck makes a short-notice appearance with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, reviewed by Mike Wheeler
Ensemble. A Geordie Knees-Up - John Wilson conducts the Hallé Orchestra, reviewed by Mike Wheeler
Ensemble. Playfulness and Spirit - Mike Wheeler joins the Hallé Orchestra's 150th birthday celebrations
CD Spotlight. A Generous Earful - Peter Dawson favourites from Gregory Yurisch and the Tasmanian Symphony, enjoyed by Howard Smith. '... in this repertoire they hardly miss a trick.'
Warmth and Vigour - Mike Wheeler listens to a recital by the Adelfi Duo
CD Spotlight. Monumental - Elgar's 'Dream of Gerontius' from Birmingham, appreciated by Patric Standford. '... a rich performance by both chorus and orchestra ...'
Elgar and Englishness - Alistair Hinton takes issue with Patric Standford's recent 'Provocative Thoughts'
Provocative thoughts, from Patric Standford - Elgar and England
Richness and Clarity - Ashley Grote opens Derby Cathedral's series of summer organ recitals, reviewed by Mike Wheeler
Ensemble. Classy Performance - Summer with The Derwent Singers, reviewed by Mike Wheeler
Ensemble. Expressive Fervour - Elgar's 'The Music Makers' in Derby Cathedral, reviewed by Mike Wheeler
Ensemble. Various Challenges - Music by Trevor Hold, Elgar, Parry, Stanford, Delius and Vivaldi from the Derwent Singers, reviewed by Mike Wheeler
CD Spotlight. Across the Meadow - British light music, reviewed by George Balcombe. '... a wasteland of clone music.'
Ensemble. Fiery Performance - The Hallé Orchestra plays Elgar and Wagner, reviewed by Mike Wheeler
DVD Spotlight. Much Resonance - Daniel Barenboim and the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra in Ramallah, reviewed by Robert Anderson. '... an orchestra of first-class accomplishment.'
Ensemble. Tanglewood and Beyond - The sounds of summer in the Berkshires, reviewed by Lawrence Budmen
The Big Statement - An organ recital by John Keys, reviewed by Mike Wheeler
CD Spotlight. Widely Divergent Composers - Music for violin and piano, reviewed by George Balcombe. '... clear and consistent ...'
Ensemble. Simply Stunning - A performance of Elgar's 'The Dream of Gerontius' impresses Mike Wheeler
Ensemble. Much to enjoy - Colin Davies conducts Elgar's 'Dream of Gerontius', and Robert Hugill was in the audience
Ensemble. Hushed intensity - Elgar, Brahms and Strauss in Derby, reviewed by Mike Wheeler
Class actions? - Alistair Hinton replies to Patric Standford's latest on 'Class acts'
Ensemble. Heart-rending beauty - Concertos by Elgar and Kopytman, reviewed by Malcolm Miller
Ensemble. Their Majesties' Music - Pippa Hare listens to the Choir of the 21st Century
Ensemble. A thrilling performance - Rosie and Nick Evelegh were at Canterbury Choral Society's 'The Apostles'
CD Spotlight. Wondrously alive - Music by Elgar, reviewed by Robert Anderson. '... yet more immediacy than the original LPs ...'
Record box. Buy or despair - The Rastrelli cello quartet, reviewed by Alice McVeigh
Ensemble. Compelling performances - Elgar's Cello Concerto enlivens an ambitious Festival Miami concert, reviewed by Lawrence Budmen
Record box. Expanding repertoire - A Daniel Rubinoff saxophone recital, reviewed by Patric Standford
CD Spotlight. Strange farrago - Elgar's 'Starlight Express', reviewed by Robert Anderson. '... accomplished and imbued with the sort of affection the work desperately needs.'
CD Spotlight. Passion for Bach - Dominic Miller's 'Shapes', reviewed by Tess Crebbin. '... he is a genius.'
CD Spotlight. Mr Bean and Elgar - A compilation of recordings from the 1970s, reviewed by Robert Anderson. '... a technical mastery that any world soloist might envy.'
CD Spotlight. Gloriously inspired - Choral works by Walton and Elgar, reviewed by Robert Anderson. 'Sargent's vitality matches Walton's ...'
The specious origins of originality - Alistair Hinton comments on Patric Standford's recent 'Provocative Thoughts'
Ensemble. Impressions of Italy - Lawrence Budmen is impressed by Alasdair Neale and the New World Symphony
Ensemble. Musical evangelism - Piers Adams' group Red Priest amazes Keith Bramich
CD Spotlight. Fertile imagination - Arrangement with a vengeance from Red Priest, reviewed by Robert Anderson. '... never a dull moment and entertainment value paramount.'
Scholarship and originality - David Bury explains the merits of Robert Anderson's new book 'Elgar and Chivalry'
Reality or invention? - Peter Dale reads from a Liverpool University symposium on the musical work
Book review. The narrator's function - McGuire's new book about Elgar's oratorios is investigated by Robert Anderson
Speaking universally - A Yank's appreciation of British music, with Richard Krause