Commissioned at the height of Elgar's fame in 1909, his Violin Concerto in B Minor is still considered one of the great late romantic works
Elgar: Violin Concerto in B Minor
Commissioned at the height of Elgar's fame in 1909, his Violin Concerto in B Minor is still considered one of the great late romantic works. It was dedicated to Fritz Kreisler, the greatest violinist of his day, and who was the soloist at its first performance, on November 10, 1910. One hundred years on and the same piece of music will, on its anniversary later this year, be performed by the Danish violinist Nikolaj Znaider, using the same 1741 Guarnerius del Gesù violin as was used by Kreisler, and backed by the same orchestra that played that night, the London Symphony Orchestra. The results will no doubt be mesmerising. This recording, though, gives us a taster, albeit with accompaniment provided by the Dresden Staatskapelle. Znaider has performed often with this historic instrument, which perhaps goes some way towards explaining his deep affinity for the music. Considered less pompous and overblown than some of Elgar's other works, its sudden switches between moments of grand ambition and tender, intense reflection seem almost instinctive to Znaider, whose bearing throughout is masterful. Sir Colin Davis, who conducts, and who will also lead the centenary performance, draws a gloriously understated but heartfelt performance from the Staatskapelle, too. History, in this recording, is being eerily repeated. Such an ambitious task could not be in better hands.