Edward Elgar

Sospiri, adagio for strings, harp & organ, Op. 70

    Description by Wayne Reisig

    Elgar's Sospiri was premiered on August 11, 1914, and in less than two weeks the world would be forever changed. Much of the composer's music from this period is read as an elegy to a disappearing golden age: the long-fading close of the Second Symphony, Falstaff being dismissed by the new young king. Granted, these readings have the benefit of hindsight. Yet in the case of Sospiri the interpretation seems reasonable, for world events were rapidly drawing to a head, and a sense of world-weariness, albeit restrained, is deeply felt in this brief, unusual work. The composer's wife, in fact, said that the work was "like a breath of peace on a perturbed world." The title is Italian for "sighs" or "sighing."

    Although Elgar said that as a whole he did not care for French music, there is something quite Gallic in the Fauré-like delicacy and clarity of the writing here. This impression is due in part to the ethereal scoring for strings, harp, and organ (the organ part, unusually, is ad lib). The main melody enters dissonantly over the harmony, and the resolution, as well as the wide intervals, seem evocative of the title. After the reprise of the opening, the different voices, each from a different entry point, glide to a long-held final cadence that brings to rest this sensitive essay in resigned serenity.

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2015 Naxos 8573250
    2015 Chandos CHAN 24154
    2015 Gothic Records G 49294
    2015 ABC Classics ABC 4811776
    2014 Decca
    2013 BIS BIS 1879
    2013 Decca CDNNNOW 9
    2013 Decca
    2013 Decca
    2013 Decca
    2013 Decca
    2013
    2013 DG Deutsche Grammophon 4791044
    2012 Decca
    2012 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099968052621
    2012 SOMM SOMM 247
    2011 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099990722
    2011 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099908518
    2011 Signum Classics SIGCD 266
    2010 Sonoma SBT 20106
    2010 Naxos 8570364
    2010 Sonoma Entertainment SBD 20063
    2009 Decca 4781484
    2008 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099950140
    2008 EMI Classics
    2007 Apex
    2007 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099950360
    2007 Apex
    2007 Warner Classics 2564-69924-6
    2006 Madacy Distribution / Madacy TC252367
    2006 Decca 475 7489
    2006 EMI Music Distribution 67918
    2006 Gothic Records 49247
    2006 Decca 000703002
    2006 Naxos 8 552133/4
    2005 EMI Classics
    2005 EMI Classics
    2005 The Relaxation Company 7110
    2004 Madacy 3641
    2004 EMI Music Distribution 85512
    2004 Chandos 24117
    2003 The Relaxation Company 3000
    2003 The Relaxation Company / Relaxation Music 3003
    2003 Warner Classics
    2003 Naxos 8 557320
    2003 Columbia River Entertainment Group 215001
    2003 Decca 4738622
    2002 EMI Music Distribution 75790
    2002 Metro 7006
    2002 Naxos 8520101
    2002 DG Deutsche Grammophon 463265
    2002 Decca 473 249-2
    2002 Apex 927490212
    2002 Decca 470 780-2
    2001 The Relaxation Company / Relaxation Music 3171
    2001 Harmonia Mundi 907258
    2001 Naxos 8 555068
    2001 Nimbus 1737
    2001 EMI Music Distribution 566541
    2000 The Relaxation Company 3040
    2000 Columbia River Entertainment Group 150004
    2000 EMI Music Distribution 573992
    2000 EMI Classics 5672402
    2000 Angel Records 67264
    2000 Columbia River Entertainment Group 150008
    2000 Columbia River Entertainment Group 150007
    2000 Nimbus 7069
    2000 Columbia River Entertainment Group 315001
    2000 Columbia River Entert / Columbia River Entertainment Group 315000
    2000 Columbia River Entert / Columbia River Entertainment Group 150002
    1999 The Relaxation Company 3043
    1999 The Relaxation Company 3043
    1999 Chandos CHAN241-4
    1999 BBC Legends WMEF0041-2
    1998 Nimbus 7007
    1998 Columbia River Entertainment Group 1171
    1997 Teldec 0630-17785-2
    1997 London 452 707-2DF2
    1996 Angel Records / EMI Music Distribution 66166
    1996 John Marks Records 10
    1994 Celestial Harmo / Celestial Harmonies 35507
    1994 Teldec 92374
    1994 Nimbus 7015
    1994 VAI Audio 1067
    1993 EMI Music Distribution 64724
    1992 Celestial Harmonies 14050
    1992 Chandos 8788
    1992 Nimbus 5210/13
    1991 Chandos 8380
    1986 EMI Music Distribution 747537
    Beulah 3PD15
    Madacy 52368
    Madacy 5527
    Gemini Collection 611
    Chandos 6544
    HMV Classics 573383
    Apollo Music 333
    Carlton 569180
    EMI Music Distribution 54192
    Nimbus 5008
    Apex 4621142
    In Classical Mood 12033
    Collins Records 30062
    Chandos 8432
    Somerset Entertainment / Sonoma STCE0182
    Nimbus 1424
    ABC Classics 9807563