Elgar: Enigma Variations
SIGCD168 | May 2009 release
Each of the variations in Elgar’s Enigma Variations describes one of the composer’s acquaintances; the very famous movement ‘Nimrod’ for example depicts August Johann Jaeger, one of Elgar’s closest friends. The theme on which these variations are based has never been identified for certain; Jaeger called the enigma ‘a bit of Elgar’s humour’.
Alassio is a town in Italy where the Elgars stayed in in 1904. Although described as an overture, Elgar’s work ‘Alassio’ is a tone-poem describing the sensations of his Italian holiday. The central section of the work was inspired by ancient Roman civilisation.
Elgar composed his Serenade for Strings in 1892, and as late as 1904 maintained that he liked the work as much as anything he had ever written. In 1933 his last recording was of this work. The work is graceful, stately, humorous and, in the composer’s own words, ‘really stringy’.
This recording was part of the Philharmonia’s Elgar series in 2007.