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Elgar: Music For Powick Asylum

Elgar / Innovation Chamber Ensemble / Collett
Release Date: 05/13/2014 
Label:  Somm   Catalog #: 252   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Sir Edward Elgar
Performer:  John TattersdillDuncan WilsonZoe [Orchestra Leader] BeyersVictoria Brawn
Conductor:  Barry Collett
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Innovation Chamber Ensemble
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 16 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



ELGAR Quadrilles: Die junge Kokette; L’Assomoir; La brunette; Paris; A Singing Quadrille. The Valentine: Five Lancers. Polkas: Maud; Nelly; La Blonde; Helcia; Blumine. Menuetto. Andante and Allegro for Oboe and String Trio. Duett for Trombone and Double Bass. Fugue for Oboe and Violin Barry Collett, cond; Innovation C Ens; Zoë Beyers (vn); Louise Williams (va); Richard Jenkinson (vc); Read more John Tattersdill (db); Victoria Brawn (ob); Duncan Wilson (trb) SOMM 252 (76:59)


Back in the 19th century, music therapy was important in a number of what were then called “lunatic asylums.” Gottschalk used to play, with great enthusiasm, at an institution in Utica, New York. And in 1879, the young Elgar was given a position as “Bandmaster” at the Powick Asylum, a couple of miles outside Worcester. His job was to compose dance music for the inmates—and this recording apparently gathers up all the quadrilles, lancers, and polkas that still survive, in editions by Andrew Lyle (who, along with Barry Collett, is also responsible for filling out the sketch score of A Singing Quadrille ).


Given Elgar’s relative inexperience (he was no prodigy), given the utilitarian function of the music, given the seedy, hodge-podge orchestration (limited to friends and colleagues, his ensemble—according to Lyle’s scrupulous notes—consisted of a few violins sometimes supplemented by a viola, a cello, a bass, a piccolo, a flute, a clarinet, two cornets, a euphonium, a bombardon, and a piano) … given the circumstances, you wouldn’t expect to this to be first-rate music. And it isn’t. Nor, despite a measure or two here and there that look ahead, does it give us much sense of the composer to come. If, hearing it without identification, you were asked to guess the origins of the first dance in Die junge Kokette , you’d be apt to guess it a minor chip off Sullivan’s workbench before you’d assign it to Elgar; much of the rest is more anonymous still. Even so, the music—more vital, rhythmically, than much of Elgar’s early output—is dotted with attractive tunes and artful harmonic turns. There are also a fair share of whimsical musical references: The last dance in the set of lancers seems to hint at Gaudeamus Igitur , just as L’Assomoir (Elgar’s misspelling) sounds momentarily as if it were a cousin to Gounod’s Funeral March for a Marionette —and A Singing Quadrille is overtly, and very shrewdly, based on pre-existing material, including nursery rhymes. The disc is filled out with a few chamber works that were not written for Powick—the most interesting is the wacky 1887 “duett” (Elgar’s spelling again) for trombone and double bass, a cheeky minute or so during which the composer delights (as Stravinsky was to do much later in Pulcinella ) in the sheer absurdity of the combination.


Nothing here is especially deep: If the title of L’Assomoir refers to Zola, the music assuredly doesn’t. As a result, you might not want to listen carefully to this whole disc straight through. Still, in small doses, or as background music, it’s got plenty of charm—and this is obviously the place to turn if you’re interested in getting to know it. Yes, Collett recorded most of this music with the Rutland Sinfonia a quarter-century ago. But that disc, which I’ve not heard, is long out of print; and the remakes, based on the new Elgar edition and featuring a snappy group drawn from the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, are as idiomatic as you could want. Add to this the fine engineering and the presence of three first recordings (the Menuetto , the Andante and Allegro , and A Singing Quadrille ), and you have a disc that should attract the more avid of Fanfare ’s Elgarians.


FANFARE: Peter J. Rabinowitz
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Works on This Recording

1.
Menuetto, for 2 flutes, oboe, clarinet & bassoon in B flat major by Sir Edward Elgar
Conductor:  Barry Collett
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Innovation Chamber Ensemble
Period: Post-Romantic 
Written: 1878 
Venue:  CBSO Centre, Birmingham 
Length: 4 Minutes 22 Secs. 
2.
Movements (2), for oboe & string trio by Sir Edward Elgar
Conductor:  Barry Collett
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Innovation Chamber Ensemble
Period: Post-Romantic 
Written: ?1875 
Venue:  CBSO Centre, Birmingham 
Length: 6 Minutes 1 Secs. 
3.
Die Junge Kokette, quadrilles (5) for band by Sir Edward Elgar
Conductor:  Barry Collett
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Innovation Chamber Ensemble
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1879 
Venue:  CBSO Centre, Birmingham 
Length: 5 Minutes 18 Secs. 
4.
Maude, polka for band by Sir Edward Elgar
Conductor:  Barry Collett
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Innovation Chamber Ensemble
Period: Post-Romantic 
Written: 1880 
Venue:  CBSO Centre, Birmingham 
Length: 4 Minutes 56 Secs. 
5.
L'Assomoir, quadrilles (5) for band by Sir Edward Elgar
Conductor:  Barry Collett
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Innovation Chamber Ensemble
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1879 
Venue:  CBSO Centre, Birmingham 
Length: 5 Minutes 24 Secs. 
6.
Nellie, polka for band by Sir Edward Elgar
Conductor:  Barry Collett
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Innovation Chamber Ensemble
Period: Post-Romantic 
Written: 1880 
Venue:  CBSO Centre, Birmingham 
Length: 3 Minutes 10 Secs. 
7.
La brunette, quadrilles (5) for band by Sir Edward Elgar
Conductor:  Barry Collett
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1879 
Venue:  CBSO Centre, Birmingham 
Length: 1 Minutes 33 Secs. 
8.
La blonde, polka for band by Sir Edward Elgar
Conductor:  Barry Collett
Period: Post-Romantic 
Written: 1882 
Venue:  CBSO Centre, Birmingham 
Length: 4 Minutes 45 Secs. 
9.
The Valentine, lancers (5) for band by Sir Edward Elgar
Conductor:  Barry Collett
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1880 
Venue:  CBSO Centre, Birmingham 
Length: 7 Minutes 48 Secs. 
10.
Duet, for trombone & double bass by Sir Edward Elgar
Performer:  John Tattersdill (Double Bass), Duncan Wilson (Trombone)
Period: Post-Romantic 
Written: 1887 
Venue:  CBSO Centre, Birmingham 
Length: 1 Minutes 18 Secs. 
11.
Paris, quadrilles (5) for band by Sir Edward Elgar
Conductor:  Barry Collett
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1880 
Venue:  CBSO Centre, Birmingham 
Length: 5 Minutes 36 Secs. 
12.
Helcia, polka for band by Sir Edward Elgar
Conductor:  Barry Collett
Period: Post-Romantic 
Written: 1883 
Venue:  CBSO Centre, Birmingham 
Length: 3 Minutes 11 Secs. 
13.
Singing Quadrilles (5), for orchestra (sketches) by Sir Edward Elgar
Conductor:  Barry Collett
Period: Post-Romantic 
Written: circa 1878 
Venue:  CBSO Centre, Birmingham 
Length: 1 Minutes 40 Secs. 
14.
Fugue, for violin & oboe in D minor by Sir Edward Elgar
Performer:  Zoe [Orchestra Leader] Beyers (Violin), Victoria Brawn (Oboe)
Period: Post-Romantic 
Written: 1883 
Venue:  CBSO Centre, Birmingham 
Length: 1 Minutes 8 Secs. 
15.
Blumine, polka for band by Sir Edward Elgar
Conductor:  Barry Collett
Period: Post-Romantic 
Written: 1884 
Venue:  CBSO Centre, Birmingham 
Length: 4 Minutes 19 Secs. 

Sound Samples

Menuetto (Scherzo)
Andante and Allegro: Andante
Andante and Allegro: Allegro
Dances for Worcester City and County Pauper Lunatic Asylum, Powick: Die junge Kokette: Quadrille No. 1
Dances for Worcester City and County Pauper Lunatic Asylum, Powick: Die junge Kokette: Quadrille No. 2
Dances for Worcester City and County Pauper Lunatic Asylum, Powick: Die junge Kokette: Quadrille No. 3
Dances for Worcester City and County Pauper Lunatic Asylum, Powick: Die junge Kokette: Quadrille No. 4
Dances for Worcester City and County Pauper Lunatic Asylum, Powick: Die junge Kokette: Quadrille No. 5
Dances for Worcester City and County Pauper Lunatic Asylum, Powick: 5 Polkas: Dances for Worcester City and County Pauper Lunatic Asylum, Powick, 5 Polkas: No. 1. Maud
Dances for Worcester City and County Pauper Lunatic Asylum, Powick: L'Assom[m]oir: Quadrille No. 1
Dances for Worcester City and County Pauper Lunatic Asylum, Powick: L'Assom[m]oir: Quadrille No. 2
Dances for Worcester City and County Pauper Lunatic Asylum, Powick: L'Assom[m]oir: Quadrille No. 3
Dances for Worcester City and County Pauper Lunatic Asylum, Powick: L'Assom[m]oir: Quadrille No. 4
Dances for Worcester City and County Pauper Lunatic Asylum, Powick: L'Assom[m]oir: Quadrille No. 5
Dances for Worcester City and County Pauper Lunatic Asylum, Powick: 5 Polkas: Dances for Worcester City and County Pauper Lunatic Asylum, Powick, 5 Polkas: No. 2. Nelly
Dances for Worcester City and County Pauper Lunatic Asylum, Powick: La Brunette: Quadrille No. 1
Dances for Worcester City and County Pauper Lunatic Asylum, Powick: La Brunette: Quadrille No. 2
Dances for Worcester City and County Pauper Lunatic Asylum, Powick: La Brunette: Quadrille No. 3
Dances for Worcester City and County Pauper Lunatic Asylum, Powick: La Brunette: Quadrille No. 4
Dances for Worcester City and County Pauper Lunatic Asylum, Powick: La Brunette: Quadrille No. 5
Dances for Worcester City and County Pauper Lunatic Asylum, Powick: 5 Polkas: Dances for Worcester City and County Pauper Lunatic Asylum, Powick, 5 Polkas: No. 3. La Blonde
Dances for Worcester City and County Pauper Lunatic Asylum, Powick: The Valentine: Lancer No. 1
Dances for Worcester City and County Pauper Lunatic Asylum, Powick: The Valentine: Lancer No. 2
Dances for Worcester City and County Pauper Lunatic Asylum, Powick: The Valentine: Lancer No. 3
Dances for Worcester City and County Pauper Lunatic Asylum, Powick: The Valentine: Lancer No. 4
Dances for Worcester City and County Pauper Lunatic Asylum, Powick: The Valentine: Lancer No. 5
Duett
Dances for Worcester City and County Pauper Lunatic Asylum, Powick: Paris: Quadrille No. 1: Chatelet
Dances for Worcester City and County Pauper Lunatic Asylum, Powick: Paris: Quadrille No. 2: L'Hippodrome
Dances for Worcester City and County Pauper Lunatic Asylum, Powick: Paris: Quadrille No. 3: Alcazar D'Ete
Dances for Worcester City and County Pauper Lunatic Asylum, Powick: Paris: Quadrille No. 4: La! Suzanne!
Dances for Worcester City and County Pauper Lunatic Asylum, Powick: Paris: Quadrille No. 5: Cafe des Ambassadeurs
Dances for Worcester City and County Pauper Lunatic Asylum, Powick: 5 Polkas: Dances for Worcester City and County Pauper Lunatic Asylum, Powick, 5 Polkas: No. 4. Helcia
Dances for Worcester City and County Pauper Lunatic Asylum, Powick: A Singing Quadrille: Quadrille No. 1
Dances for Worcester City and County Pauper Lunatic Asylum, Powick: A Singing Quadrille: Quadrille No. 2
Dances for Worcester City and County Pauper Lunatic Asylum, Powick: A Singing Quadrille: Quadrille No. 3
Dances for Worcester City and County Pauper Lunatic Asylum, Powick: A Singing Quadrille: Quadrille No. 4
Dances for Worcester City and County Pauper Lunatic Asylum, Powick: A Singing Quadrille: Quadrille No. 5
Fugue in D Minor
Dances for Worcester City and County Pauper Lunatic Asylum, Powick: 5 Polkas: Dances for Worcester City and County Pauper Lunatic Asylum, Powick, 5 Polkas: No. 5. Blumine

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