Kreisler wished in 1905 that Elgar ‘would write something
for the violin’, and so he did, beginning in October that year. However
it took five years to come to the front of a queue of compositions before
it saw the light of day at a Philharmonic Society concert in Queen’s
Hall on 10 November 1910. Its preface contains another one of the composer’s
enigmas, an incomplete dedication which reads (‘Aquí está
encerrada el alma de … (‘herein is enshrined the soul of …..’) a quotation
from Lesage’s ‘Gil Blas’. The unusual number of five dots only adds
to the enigma, though Alice Stuart Wortley seems a plausible solution
(but then so is Elgar himself, Alice his wife, the violin, and so on).
Whatever the answer, the music remains one of Elgar’s most intense compositions,
adapting the classical concerto form to suit his own creative ideas,
including the strikingly original accompanied cadenza in the final movement.
‘It’s good!’ wrote Elgar, ‘awfully emotional! Too emotional, but I love
Mercifully pre-dating all the hype, spin, and froth
about haircuts and crossover music, Nigel Kennedy (with his Christian
name proudly included eighteen years ago) gives an account comparable
to the famous youthful Menuhin under the composer’s baton. Its artistry
matches that of Beethoven’s concerto which he was to record in partnership
with the late Klaus Tennstedt. With Vernon Handley at the helm, and
guiding an inspired performance of Boultian dimensions, yet imposing
his own personality at the same time, and with the LPO at their finest,
this is an essential CD for lovers of Elgar.