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Track(s) taken from CDA67888

Pleading, Op 48

First line:
Will you come homeward from the hills of Dreamland?
September 1908; originally for voice and piano; subsequently orchestrated with the solo line for voice, violin, flute, oboe, cornet or clarinet
author of text

Alice Coote (mezzo-soprano), Graham Johnson (piano)
Recording details: December 2010
All Saints' Church, East Finchley, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Julian Millard
Release date: February 2012
Total duration: 3 minutes 10 seconds

Cover artwork: naturally evolving (2009) by Mark Coote (b1932)
Reproduced by kind permission of the artist

Pleading was composed in 1908, at the time Elgar was working on his First Symphony and encountering various setbacks. In September of that year he returned home from a depressing meeting with his publisher and opened his post to find a slim volume of verses sent to him by Arthur L Salmon (b1865). This poem, which at another time the composer might have disdained, fitted his mood and he composed a work where the maudlin sentimentality of the lyric is ennobled by the sincerity of Elgar’s almost childlike emotional response. The musical style is only a step away from the Victorian ballad but the word-setting is charged with a musical energy out of the reach of other composers. The changes and inflections of tempo in this extended arioso are many and various (at least one per line of music) and need to be delicately negotiated by the performers to avoid exaggeration. This populism elevated to great and utterly individual art puts us in mind of another great solitary creator—Thomas Hardy, whose wonderful poems were being written exactly at this time. The deeply religious composer and the introverted author, both rooted in their respective shires, would probably have got on had they met—although Elgar might well have been shocked at the very thought of setting a poem by the controversial author of Jude the Obscure.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 2012

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