Innovation Chamber Ensemble / Barry Collett

Elgar: Music for Powick Asylum

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For a period of six years, from 1879 to 1884, Edward Elgar was the bandmaster of the Worcester County and City Pauper Lunatic Asylum in the village of Powick, England, and his responsibilities included the writing of dance music for the patients' "weekly amusements." This album by Elgar scholar Barry Collett and the Innovation Chamber Ensemble (consisting of members of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra), presents music that is practically unknown to the public, and includes premiere recordings of Elgar's Menuetto, an audition piece for the job, as well as A Singing Quadrille, and the Andante and Allegro for oboe and string trio, which were composed during his tenure. This album could easily be dismissed as a curiosity that only Elgar buffs and fans of light music would find interesting, for there are no famous pieces here. However, the skill of the compositions and the sophistication of the orchestration indicate a high degree of craft, and the pieces reveal ingenious solutions to writing for an ad hoc ensemble of around 19 players. It is evident that Elgar learned his craft through making do with what was available, but above all, his knack for creating memorable tunes was shaped by the experience, and practically every track has an infectious melody. Somm's recording is clear and bright, and the ensemble is quite crisp in the studio setting.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 4:22
Andante & Allegro for Solo Oboe & String Trio
2 2:47
3 3:14
Die Junge Kokette (The Young Flirt), 5 quadrilles
4 1:25
5 0:48
6 1:35
7 0:57
8 1:53
9 4:56
L'Assomoir (The Bludgeon), 5 quadrilles
10 1:23
11 0:49
12 1:20
13 1:23
14 1:09
15 3:10
La Brunette, 5 quadrilles
16 1:33
17 1:24
18 1:26
19 0:57
20 1:50
21 4:45
The Valentine, 5 lancers
22 1:30
23 1:21
24 0:43
25 0:48
26 4:06
27 1:18
Paris, 5 Quadrilles
28 1:12
29 1:18
30 1:40
31 0:56
32 1:10
33 3:11
A Singing Quadrille
34 1:40 Amazon
35 1:21 Amazon
36 1:29 Amazon
37 2:23 Amazon
38 1:44 Amazon
39 1:08
40 4:19
blue highlight denotes track pick