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Sonata No 2, Op 87a


Elgar wrote his Sonata No 1 in G major for organ Op 28 in 1895 and it has since been widely accepted as a significant work in the British Romantic organ canon. The second of Elgar’s two organ sonatas started out life as the Severn Suite Op. 87, a test piece for the 1930 Crystal Palace Brass Band Festival. Two years later the fivemovement suite appeared in a version for orchestra by Elgar, first performed in April 1932 at an Abbey Road recording session. Also in 1932, Ivor Atkins—then organist of Worcester Cathedral and a close friend of Elgar—arranged, with the agreement of the composer, four movements of the Severn Suite as Elgar’s Sonata No 2 for organ, which received its first public performance at a recital of the Organ Music Society in 1933, following a private performance for the composer in Worcester Cathedral. The arrangement was subsequently published and allotted the separate opus number 87a.

The sonata is in three main movements—‘Introduction’, ‘Toccata’ and ‘Fugue’ with a concluding cadenza and coda added by Atkins. Much of the work is an extremely faithful representation of material from the original suite, and opens with a triumphal and memorable statement, the material of which recurs in Atkins’s ‘Coda’. The ‘Introduction’ grows gradually softer toward the ‘Toccata’, the most extensive and movement of the work. The breathless energy of the ‘Toccata’ slows and softens once more before moving seamlessly into the broad and steady ‘Fugue’. The whispered ‘Cadenza’ reintroduces the main theme from the opening, before the recapitulation and climactic finale of the ‘Coda’.

from notes by Adam Binks © 2009


The organ of Saint Suplice, Paris
SIGCD167Download only


Movement 1: Introduction
Track 5 on SIGCD167 [2'48] Download only
Movement 2: Toccata
Track 6 on SIGCD167 [4'37] Download only
Movement 3a: Fugue
Track 7 on SIGCD167 [2'37] Download only
Movement 3b: Cadenza
Track 8 on SIGCD167 [2'00] Download only
Movement 4: Coda
Track 9 on SIGCD167 [1'49] Download only

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