There is a veritable bonanza this spring for British music fans. Pick of the bunch is Steven Isserlis’s new recording of Elgar’s Cello Concerto.
Returning to the piece more than 25 years after his first recording, Isserlis is a little brisker this time in the last two movements, and digs a bit deeper throughout.
He wears his heart on his sleeve in his playing, and also in his ardent liner note, in which, among many interesting points, he slags off the conductor Albert Coates for leaving Elgar and his soloist no time to prepare the first outing of the Concerto.
It was a fiasco and Lady Elgar died, brokenhearted, just a few months later. Isserlis wryly observes that Coates should have been charged with her manslaughter!
On this album conductor Paavo Järvi keeps the Philharmonia Orchestra on their toes throughout, in music that cannot be at all familiar to him.
Isserlis also finds room for a lovely performance of William Walton’s underrated Cello Concerto, and two novelties: Gustav Holst’s Invocation, which would surely be heard more often in the concert hall if it were longer, and Holst’s daughter Imogen’s The Fall Of The Leaf, which the young Isserlis played at her 70th birthday celebrations back in 1977.