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I can only rejoice that Hugh Bean was spared the quintet. The ways of genius are passing strange; yet it remains incomprehensible how Elgar, with the makings of an outstanding sandwich bounded by the quartet and then the cello concerto, should fill it with the vulgarities of the piano quintet. Not even a wardful of friends' smashed limbs could save the work. The slow movement will always make its rueful point between a pair of movements that should have been banished to the nearest Lyons Corner House [listen -- CD2 track 2, 0:00-1:19]. Hugh Maguire leads the Allegri Quartet and joins John Ogdon in a valiant attempt at redemption doomed to failure.

The piano music has a charming trifle in the Serenade and a piece of rather ponderous virtuosity in the Concert Allegro that might well have made more sense if moulded ultimately towards a concerto. As it stands, Elgar was wise not to publish it. Ogdon is unashamedly grandiloquent where so bidden, and makes nonsense of any rumour that Elgar failed to understand the piano, even if he did not like it [listen -- CD2 track 8, 3:56-4:55].

Copyright © 18 August 2004 Robert Anderson, London UK


Elgar - Violin Concerto - Chamber Music - Hugh Bean

5 85908 2 ADD Stereo COMPILATION (2 CDs) 74'36"/77'09" - TT 151'45" 1970, 1971, 1973, 1989, 1993, 1999, 2004 EMI Records Ltd

Hugh Bean, violin; David Parkhouse, piano; Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra; Sir Charles Groves, conductor; John Ogdon, piano; Allegri Quartet; Music Group of London

Edward Elgar (1857-1934): Violin Sonata in E minor Op 82; Violin Concerto in B minor Op 61; Piano Quintet in A minor Op 84; String Quartet in E minor Op 83; Serenade; Concert Allegro Op 46


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