Edward Elgar

Dream Children, for small orchestra (or piano), Op. 43

    Description by Wayne Reisig

    The breadth of Elgar's literary knowledge is apparent by the extensive allusions which occur in title and content of his music. His best-known composition, after all, draws its title from an obscure line in Othello ("Pride, pomp and circumstance of glorious war!"). In the present work, Dream Children, the composer was moved by one of Charles Lamb's "Essays of Elia" for London Magazine, by the same title. In this cryptic yet haunting essay, Lamb recounts the vanishing before his eyes of two children to whom he has related a tale, this upon his awakening from a dream. The sad valedictory of the phantom children, suggested by the expression on their features runs "...We are nothing; less than nothing, and dreams. We are only what might have been...." Deeply moved, Elgar quoted the entire paragraph from which the quote is drawn at the head of the score. The work received its premiere just three days after the composer's mother's death.

    The restraint of this small but affecting work adds to its poignancy. The woodwind dominated first of the two movements is delicately scored; both the opening and the harp-driven middle section share a surreal melancholy. The second movement, attempting to alleviate the gloom, is in gently swinging 3/4 time and would seem to be of a carefree disposition, were it not for its context. Quite possibly the composer meant to depict the children as they might have existed. This gentle and less morbid movement fades into a reminiscence of the work's opening, closing with a major-key transformation of the same.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Andantino in G minor
    2. Allegretto piacevole in G major

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2017 ABC Classics
    2016 Heritage 250
    2016 Somm SOMMCD 2614
    2016 Argo / Decca
    2016 ABC Classics 4812722
    2014 Hallé 8004
    2013 Decca
    2012 Heritage HTGCD 237
    2012 Concerto / Zebralution
    2011 ABC Classics 4764196
    2011 ABC Classics 4764195
    2011 Hallé CDHLD 7532
    2011 Regis Records RRC 5010
    2010 Naxos 857808182
    2009 Harmonia Mundi 507258
    2007 Rhino
    2007 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099950360
    2007 Chandos 10422
    2007 Chandos CHAN10429X
    2007 Avie 2129
    2007 London/Decca / Decca 4758079
    2006 Koss 1014
    2006 Naxos 8570166
    2006 Testament 1106
    2005 Warner Classics / Warner Music 62199
    2004 Naxos 8557166
    2004 Hallé 8001
    2002 Decca 473 249-2
    2001 Silverline Records 81002
    2001 EMI Music Distribution 66399
    2001 Harmonia Mundi 907258
    2000 Iliad 40702
    1999 Chandos CHAN241-4
    1999 ASV 1065
    1999 Pearl GEM0050
    1997 Erato 18311
    1997 Erato 630164942
    1996 Nimbus 7029
    1996 EMI Music Distribution 565593-2
    1995 Rising Star Records RSO-270
    1995 Arabesque 6664
    1994 Teldec 92374
    1994 Pearl GEMMCD9087
    1987 Chandos 8438
    Chandos 6544
    Hallé 7509
    Argo 433214