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Elgar's mature chamber works make a mixed bag. Bean's performance of the sonata with David Parkhouse convinced me to upgrade my view of it, despite Elgar's seeming to lament the absence of an orchestra in so many passages. One is always grateful, if sympathetic, over Alice Stuart of Wortley's broken leg at Tintagel that inspired the splendid cantilena at the centre of the 'Romance' and indeed for the death of Marie Joshua that brought it back in the finale [listen -- CD1 track 2, 2:41-4:00]. The quartet is the pick of the bunch, with a kaleidoscope of fascinating material that recalls a Falstaff with all offences purged. Bean's team relishes the quartet's exhilarating cut and thrust [listen -- CD2 track 6, 2:00-3:28].

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Copyright © 18 August 2004 Robert Anderson, London UK


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