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ELGAR: String Quartet in E Major / Piano Quintet in A Minor



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Edward Elgar (1857-1934)


String Quartet in E minor, Op.83


Piano Quintet in A minor, Op. 84



"Everything good and nice and clean and fresh and sweet is far away - never to return" ...Elgar'a Alice Stuart Wortley, 18th September, 1917.



The String Quartet andPiano Quintet belong to the late autumn of Elgar's compositionallife. Wearied and depressed by the war years, his retreat to the Sussex cottage"Brinkwells" revived his spirits, and this renewed but temporarysense of well-being produced the three great chamber works and the Cello Concerto. Nothing further ofsignificance was penned before his death in 1934 and efforts to write a thirdsymphony remained as sketches.



Elgar's diary records him writing "E minor stuff" in April1918 and it is significant that of the four works dating from this period,three are in that key. Manyearlier attempts at a quartet never materialised. A D minor exposition appearedin his 1878 sketch books and in 1907 there is reference in Lady Eigar's diaryto a quartet, but it was put aside in favour of work for the First Symphony. In a similar way,after the completion of the first movement of theE minor Quartet, the Violin Sonata took precedence and the work wastherefore completed in tandem with the PianoQuintet.



The first movement of the StringQuartet is in 12/8 and the first subject is presented as anascending, questioning motif, followed by a typical sequential descendingpassage in fourths. The second subject finds a more settled mood, but thegeneral feeling is of unrest and uncertainty, ending enigmatically with thefirst half of the first subject seemingly hanging in the air. The slow movement, marked Piacevole, has a simple song-like melodyas its first theme, A complete contrast to the first movement, Alice Elgardescribed it as "captured sunshine". Completed on Christmas Eve 1918,the last movement is passionate and forceful. Elgar fulfilled a promise fromthe early years of the century by dedicating the quartet to the BrodskyQuartet, although the premi?¿re was given by the British String Quartet.



The "reminiscence of sinister trees" (Alice Elgar) refers tothe partly programmatic element that pervades the Piano Quintet. The "sinister trees" were oncestruck by lightning on ground above "Brinkwells", around which hadarisen the story (most likely invented by Elgar's friend Algernon Blackwell)that they represented the dead forms of a settlement of Spanish monks, dulypunished for their "impious rites". The Moderato introduction of the first movement contrasts thealmost plainsong-like piano line with the ghostly interjections from thestrings. The following Allegro relentlesslypursues a 6/8 motif until, after a pause, the "Spanish" secondsubject is heard on the violins, accompanied by pizzicato chords in the mannerof a guitar. Both the plainsong first statement and the second subject have theminor second of the Phrygian mode which further emphasizes a Moorish influence.

The radiant beauty of the Adagio beginswith a seamless melody for the viola -redolent with longing. It is significantthat this movement meant a great deal to Elgar. The cyclical nature of the workcontinues through the last movement, beginning as it does with the directreference to the first movement introduction. A purposeful Allegro is heard on unison strings and theA major conclusion banishes the occult inspired "ghostly-stuff" ofthe first movement.



Both works received their first performance at the Wigmore Hall on 21stMay, 1919.



1997 by Andrew Walton.



Maggini Quartet


The Maggini Quartet, with Laurence Jackson and David Angel, violins,Martin Outram, viola, and Michal Kaznowski, cello, was established in 1988 andsoon won international acclaim, with signal success in the United States andthe Far East, as well as in Europe. The quartet broadcasts regularly for theBBC, appears in festivals and recitals and has a busy schedule in the recordingstudio, with releases ranging from Haydn to Szymanowski, Frank Bridge and E.J.

Moeran. New music commissioned by the quartet includes work by theJamaican-born Eleanor Alberga. The quartet derives its name from the famousearly seventeenth century Brescian violin-maker Giovanni Paolo Maggini, anexample of whose work is played by David Angel. Laurence Jackson plays aFlemish instrument of c.1720, Martin Outram an eighteenth century viola andMichal Kaznowski a cello made in Salisbury in 1779 by the famous English maker,Benjamin Banks.



Peter Donohoe


Peter Donohoe was born in Manchester and studied at the Royal NorthernCollege of Music and then in Paris with Yvonne Loriod, wife of the eminentcomposer, the late Olivier Messiaen. Since his unprecedented success at the1982 International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, he has developed adistinguished career in Europe, the USA and in the Far East. He appearsregularly with the major London orchestras and across Europe with orchestrassuch as the Berlin Philharmonic, the Leipzig Gewandhaus and the CzechPhilharmonic. Peter Donohoe performs annually at the BBC Promenade Concerts andhas appeared at the Edinburgh Festival and at the Schleswig-Holstein MusicFestival. He also performs regularly in Australia, New Zealand and the FarEast. In the United States he has appeared with the Los Angeles Philharmonicand also with the Chicago, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Detroit SymphonyOrchestras and the Cleveland Orchestra. He has won awards for his recording ofthe Liszt Sonata (the Grand Prix International du Disque Liszt) and for hisrecording of the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No.2 (the Gramophone Concertoaward).

Facts
Item number 8553737
Barcode 730099473729
Release date 12/01/1999
Category Romantic
Label Naxos Classics
Media type CD
Number of units 1
Performers
Artists Donohoe, Peter
Donohoe, Peter
Composers Elgar, Edward
Elgar, Edward
Orchestras Maggini Quartet
Maggini Quartet
Producers Walton, Andrew
Walton, Andrew
Disc: 1
Piano Quintet, A minor, Op. 84
1 Allegro moderato
2 Piacevole (poco andante)
3 Allegro molto
4 Moderato
5 Adagio
6 Andante-Allegro
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