No Aloof Englishman Here: Edward Elgar's Violin Concerto
Sir Edward Elgar, the Englishman who put English music back on the the international map early in the 20th century with his Enigma Variations, wrote his grand Violin Concerto in B-Minor in 1910.
It was one of his last works to gain immediate popular success. Fritz Kreisler was the soloist at the premier in London, and Elgar himself conducted the famous recording still available with a 16 year old Yehudi Menuhin as soloist just two years before the composer's death in 1934.
The emotional core of this big, nearly 50 minute long concerto is thought to be an expression of love between the composer and Alice Stuart Wortly, a close friend of the Elgar family. It has also been suggested by biographers that each of the three movements of the concerto is inspired by different people close to Elgar. Whatever the case, there's lots of love to go around in this heartfelt work from a not-so-aloof Englishman.
You can hear Elgar's Violin Concerto this evening on Symphony @ 7 on Classical 101 in a performance featuring the fine violinist Gil Shaham and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by David Zinman. They performed the work together a number of times before making this recording at Orchestra Hall in 2007.