Composed in 1910, Edward Elgar’s short Romance
Op 62 came from one of his most prolific and richly creative periods, sandwiched between the First Symphony (1908) and the Second Symphony (1911), written in the same year as the Violin Concerto. Yet, the work has links with the composer’s humble beginnings as a young musician in Worcester, when he played the violin in local orchestras, conducted the Glee Club, and played the bassoon in a wind quintet with two flutes and no horn, also composing a number of works for this unusual combination. His love for and understanding of the bassoon is evident in all his major orchestral works, and it was the playing of his friend Edwin F James (principal bassoonist in the London Symphony Orchestra) that inspired Elgar to compose this lyrical, somewhat reflective work. The majority of the Romance
was written on 11 January 1910 when Elgar was busy working on sketches for his Violin Concerto, and comparisons between the opening tuttis and solo entries of both works reveal a striking similarity of ideas. It was first performed by James in a Herefordshire Orchestral Society concert conducted by the composer on 16 February 1911. The rather melancholy character of the Romance
may well be a reflection of Elgar’s sadness following the recent deaths of two close friends whom the composer immortalized in his ‘Enigma’ Variations – A J Jaeger (the dedicatee of Variation 9, ‘Nimrod’) and Basil G Nevison (Variation 12, ‘B.G.N.’). Beautifully written for the instrument, with a sensitive and imaginative accompaniment, this is undoubtably one of the great miniature masterpieces for the solo bassoon.
from notes by Laurence Perkins © 2004