Notes and Editorial Reviews
Childhood-related but mature and attractive music, well performed and recorded.
Bryden Thomson had something of a reputation for slowish tempi, savouring the music a little too much as he went along. I find this less irksome in his performances of Bax, for example, than some reviewers, and it is not too much in evidence here. He is often faster than Boult; only rarely is he slower.
The Slumber Scene (track 6) is one exception: here, at 4:27, he is exactly a whole minute slower than Boult’s 3:27. EM, who has already reviewed this recording – see review – also noted that Thomson takes whole minute longer over this movement than Handley – at least, I think he meant to say that Thomson was slower, not
Not recalling that I had thought this movement at all slow in my first run-through, I let several days elapse before listening carefully to the Boult version, fully prepared to think his timing too rushed. It was no such thing – he captures the spirit of the piece perfectly. Having put on the Boult recording in order to check the one track, I just couldn’t resist playing the whole thing. This is a wonderful recording and EMI should urgently consider reissuing it, perhaps more appropriately coupled – the music and performance are even worthy to sit alongside the Enigma Variations. I note that JQ welcomed its most recent appearance on EMI British Classics with enthusiasm.
Then I played the Thomson again and derived equal pleasure from it. At first I thought the recording not quite as full as the Boult – EMI’s ADD sound is very good for its age – but that is an aural delusion resulting from the fact that the EMI transfer is at a slightly higher rate: turn up the Chandos a notch and the illusion disappears. Both performances and recordings deliver plenty of power where it is need.
Did Thomson’s Slumber Scene sound too slumberous? Only marginally – heard on its own, without comparison, it’s perfectly fine. I’ve said so often that tempo indications don’t always tell the full story that it’s time that I got it into my own noddle. I do think, however, that the March which begins the second suite (tr.8) is a touch slow at 4:58 against Boult’s 4:26.
The Nursery Suite and Dream Children also receive fine performances – the latter from Norman del Mar, always idiomatic in English music – well recorded. At its new price, this recording is very welcome. In the absence of the Boult (temporary, I hope) this will do very nicely.
If you enjoy these pieces, you will probably react favourably to Elgar’s other piece of childhood-related music, The Starlight Express, Op.78 - not to be confused with the West End musical of that name; there’s a wonderful budget-price Vernon Handley version on Classics For Pleasure 5859072.
-- Brian Wilson, MusicWeb International
Works on This Recording
The Wand of Youth Suite no 1, Op. 1a by Sir Edward Elgar
Norman Del Mar
Written: 1907; England
The Wand of Youth Suite no 2, Op. 1b by Sir Edward Elgar
Written: 1908; England
Nursery Suite by Sir Edward Elgar
Norman Del Mar
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1931; England
Dream Children, Op. 43 by Sir Edward Elgar
Norman Del Mar
Written: 1902; England
Featured Sound Samples
The Wand of Youth Suite no 1: VII: Fairies and Giants
The Wand of Youth Suite no 2: VI: The Wild Bears
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
Elgar children fantasy July 26, 2014
By Joel Kahana (HAIFA, Israel) See All My Reviews
"Sir Edward Elgar is the most reknown British composer of the late Victorian and the beginning of the 20th century .He came from a little town in the Midland and his delicate yet profound music was exspressing various parts of the English society .Children were his subject for utmost joy and cheerfullness. Identified with their games and pets he composed Wound of Youth 1&2, Dream Children and later the Nursery suite. All those are full with heart catching music depicting the plays and the life of the little beloved. The Ulster symphony with the conductor Briden Thomson contribute to the picturesque athmosphere of children world. Chandos recording is as usual better than expected."