EDWARD ELGAR (1857-1934): The Crown of India, Op. 66 (compl. Anthony Payne [b.1936]), Imperial March, Op. 32, The Coronation March, Op. 65, The Empire March.
Catalogue Number: 12L009
Description: Devoted Elgarians who have known only the short suite which Elgar extracted later that year, this completion of the large-scale 1912 "Imperial Masque in Two Tableaux", lasting just over 132 minutes, will be a gloriously guilty wallow. Commissioned by the proprietor of the Coliseum Theatre in London, who himself was one of millions of Englishmen stimulated by the spectacle of the preceding year's Durbar at Delhi at which King George V and Queen Mary presided over a lavish spectacle involving the laying of the cornerstone for the construction of New Delhi, this impossibly imperialistic stage work has as characters Indian cities, Mogul emperors, Nautch Girls (whatever they are), soldiers of the East India Company, St. George, John Company (presumably embodying the East India Company in one man), various generals, governors, warriors, courtiers, attendants, pages and, of course, the King-Emperor and the Queen-Empress. The libretto is deliciously embarassing, both in its unabashed paternalistic imperialism and in its actual quality, but Elgar rises above it with colorful music of great variety with vigorous marches and patriotic songs while also inhabiting the worlds of The Starlight Express and The Wand of Youth and other early pieces like the Sérénade mauresque. 2 CDs for the price of 1. Clare Shearer (mezzo), Gerald Finley (baritone), Barbara Marten, Deborah McAndrew, Joanne Mitchell (speakers), Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus, BBC Philharmonic; Andrew Davis.