Elgar worked on the series of male-voice songs to translations of the Greek Anthology
in 1902. As a young man Elgar had served as accompanist at the Worcester Glee Club, and his biographer Basil Maine (whose book is largely based on interviews with Elgar himself) wrote: On occasions young Elgar wrote music, not only for the soloists and the band, but also for the glee party. These five part-songs have all the air of having been written for one of these almost masonic occasions, if we allow for the maturing of style which has naturally taken place meanwhile
They are written so that a group of singers such as those who performed at the Worcester Club could sing them not only with comparative ease but with zest. Most of the songs are quite short, perfect miniatures, and expertly crafted; the biggest song, Feasting I Watch
, can sound a little overblown at times, but is an effective piece nonetheless.
from notes by Geoffrey Hodgkins © 1998