Elgar wrote very little piano music. His only major solo piece, the Concert Allegro
composed for Fanny Davies, was unpublished. Nevertheless, as a child he was famed for his improvising: ‘The violin is my instrument, not the piano. I scramble through things orchestrally in a way that would madden with envy all existing pianists.’ Bernard Shaw, after hearing Elgar play the Quintet, said the same thing, wrapped up in blarney: ‘There are some piano embroideries on a pedal point that didn’t sound like a piano or anything else in the world, but quite beautiful … they require a touch which is peculiar to yourself, and which struck me the first time I ever heard you larking about with a piano.’ Elgar’s recordings (1929) of his ‘Improvisations’ reveal him as an enchanting pianist, and more little piano pieces exist than is generally known. Piers Lane gave the first known public performance of four such pieces at Potton Hall, Suffolk, on 2 July 2010. The earliest is the March in D major of 5 August 1887 (MS 118 at the Elgar Birthplace Museum), a cheerful forerunner of Pomp and Circumstance
with a trio that Elgar marked ‘sugary’.
from notes by Diana McVeagh © 2011