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He begins Act 3 with the 'gift of seven pence'. which inevitably convicts boyhood me of meanness [listen -- track 21, 0:00-0:58]. One could argue that the Elgar of 1915, a man whose faith had wobbled away over the preceding years, might not have summoned much conviction for 'The First Nowell' as musical climax to the piece; but time was when he must have sung and played it with gusto. I prefer to end, as comment on both 1915 and 2004, with the hilarious 'Laugher's Song' [listen -- track 12, 0:00-0:49]. The reissued 1976 performance under Vernon Handley is accomplished and imbued with the sort of affection the work desperately needs.

Copyright © 7 September 2004 Robert Anderson, Cairo, Egypt


Elgar - The Starlight Express

585 9072 ADD Stereo REISSUE 78'57" 1976, 1989, 1996, 2004 EMI Records Ltd

Valerie Masterson, soprano; Derek Hammond-Stroud, baritone; London Philharmonic Orchestra; Vernon Handley, conductor

Edward Elgar (1857-1934): The Starlight Express, Incidental Music Op 78 (1915) (text adapted by Algernon Blackwood and Violet Pearn)


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