© Chris Green, April 2020
During the current Corona virus lock-down, there has been plenty of time to think and to play audio recordings. Well, I did think: to the time when I first really because familiar with the music of Edward Elgar and it was all due to a Dutchman. Eduard van Beinum was the conductor and the London Philharmonic Orchestra was playing Elgar's' Overture Cockaigne (In London Town). The recording was on a 78rpm disc (or two probably).
I used as a youngster play this time and time again and admire the different aspects of that great city, although I had not been more than a couple of times because this was just after the Second World War. It may be that van Beinum visited our town in East Anglia to conduct a concert in the late 1940s or early 1950s and I think Elgar was also featured in that programme.
Skip more than 60 plus years, and it is another Dutch musician that reminds me of those performances. The young Dutch violinist Simone Lamsma accompanied by Yurie Miura has afforded me many hours of listening with admiration as she plays a programme of music by Edward Elgar written for the instrument that he played.
First, Lamsma's credentials. She is 35 and learnt to play the violin since she was five studying in the Netherlands. She came to the UK in 1997 to pursue her studies with Yehudi Menuhin and subsequently at London's Royal Academy of Music. Her career to date has involved many competitions, plenty of awards and support for her studies.
In this recording she plays a 1734 Stradivarius fiddle, an instrument t which the young Elgar would not even had access to. In this recital, the major work is the 1918 Violin Sonata, powerful in its opening movement, but including a wistful Romance that anticipates the Cello Concerto that would follow.
The majority of the programme only complements the quality of this release with a succession of music which was composed in Elgar's earlier years and best described as “salon music”. Slight the pieces may be in substance, but they are reflective of the intimate side of the composer ranging from the 1878 Romance when Elgar was having violin lessons to the oft-played Chanson de Matin and Chanson de Nuit dating from 1897.
The recording was made At Suffolk's Potton Hall, once again demonstrating what a good venue that is, especially for chamber music.