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Elgar: Enigma Variations

Are a composer’s tempi definitive? There’s a lively debate about the recordings of this period with some people suggesting that consideration was given to squeezing the music onto the sides of 78s: do you think this accounts for Elgar’s up-tempo interpretation?

01. Theme (Enigma: Andante)
02. Variation I (L’istesso tempo) “C.A.E.”
03. Variation II (Allegro) “H.D.S-P.”
04. Variation III (Allegretto) “R.B.T.”
05. Variation IV (Allegro di molto) “W.M.B.”
06. Variation V (Moderato) “R.P.A.”
07. Variation VI (Andantino) “Ysobel”
08. Variation VII (Presto) “Troyte”
09. Variation VIII (Allegretto) “W.N.”
10. Variation IX (Adagio) “Nimrod”
11. Variation X (Intermezzo: Allegretto) “Dorabella”
12. Variation XI (Allegro di molto) “G.R.S.”
13. Variation XII (Andante) “B.G.N.”
14. Variation XIII (Romanza: Moderato) “***”
15. Variation XIV (Finale: Allegro) “E.D.U.”

Here’s something interesting, what do the Russians make of a British musical institution? Comments?

00:00 __ 01. Theme (Enigma: Andante)
01:45 __ 02. Variation I (L’istesso tempo) “C.A.E.”
03:42 __ 03. Variation II (Allegro) “H.D.S-P.”
04:34 __ 04. Variation III (Allegretto) “R.B.T.”
06:05 __ 05. Variation IV (Allegro di molto) “W.M.B.”
06:41 __ 06. Variation V (Moderato) “R.P.A.”
08:35 __ 07. Variation VI (Andantino) “Ysobel”
09:54 __ 08. Variation VII (Presto) “Troyte”
11:04 __ 09. Variation VIII (Allegretto) “W.N.”
12:47 __ 10. Variation IX (Adagio) “Nimrod”
17:07 __ 11. Variation X (Intermezzo: Allegretto) “Dorabella”
19:58 __ 12. Variation XI (Allegro di molto) “G.R.S.”
21:03 __ 13. Variation XII (Andante) “B.G.N.”
23:48 __ 14. Variation XIII (Romanza: Moderato) “***”
26:46 __ 15. Variation XIV (Finale: Allegro) “E.D.U.”

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2 thoughts on “Enigmatic?

  1. Loved Elgar’s conducting despite the slides.
    Beautiful and easy to remember explanations. Just the thing for a grey day. Thank you.

  2. Very enjoyable. I remember reading somewhere that wind players in the LSO grumbled in rehearsal that at Bernstein’s tempo Nimrod was unplayable. I suppose orchestral players have always said that about this or that bit of music. And yet they still manage to play it in the end.

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