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Elgar: The Binyon Settings

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Edward Elgar
The Binyon Settings
The Spirit of England Op. 80 for Soprano Chorus & Orchestra
With Proud Thanksgiving for Chorus & Orchestra
Judith Howarth, Soprano
London Symphony Chorus, Simon Halsey, Director
Philharmonia Orchestra, John Wilson, Conductor

Carillon Op. 75 for Speaker & Orchestra
BBC Concert Orchestra, Simon Callow
John Wilson, Conductor

plus
Premiere Recording of the complete Incidental music for Arthur – A Tragedy
Orchestra of St Paul’s, Ben Palmer, Conductor

This unique new release not only commemorates the outbreak of WW1 through the music of Sir Edward Elgar but celebrates the poetry of Laurence Binyon (1869-1943), a writer whose work should be more widely known. It is possible that Binyon wrote the best known verse of poetry during World War 1 and even the best known verse of the war. In For the Fallen, a poem written at the end of August 1914 during the retreat from Mons by the British Army, Binyon recognizes the challenges, hardship and struggle the ordinary British soldier will face in the years to come. Within For the Fallen is the verse recited throughout the country on Remembrance Sunday before war memorials, services and other ceremonies such as The Festival of Remembrance.

They shall grow not old, as they that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

In other verses and poems Binyon, despite his Victorian upbringing, understood that Britain was facing a long struggle that would not ‘be over by Christmas’ as many presumed in the Autumn of 1914.

Between 1915 and 1917 Elgar set three of Binyon’s poems to music for soloist (usually soprano), chorus and orchestra all of which were drawn from his anthology of poems The Winnowing Fan, published in December 1914. The three poems set by Elgar were For the Fallen, To Women and The Fourth of August grouped under the title The Spirit of England from the opening line from The Fourth of August. In composing these three settings Elgar offered a work of solace, hope and support during the dark days that were to come.

In this disc we have also included Elgar’s re-working of For the Fallen for the unveiling of the cenotaph in London in 1920. Sadly, this was never played at the time. Originally arranged for Chorus and Military Band by Frank Winterbottom, With Proud Thanksgiving is recorded here in Elgar’s version for Chorus and Orchestra.

Elgar collaborated with Binyon once again in 1923 when he composed incidental music for Binyon’s play, Arthur. Elgar composed this for the pit band of the Old Vic theatre that amounted to no more than fourteen players. The short run of the play about the last days of King Arthur was produced by Lilian Baylis. This is the premiere recording of the complete music for “Arthur”, expertly edited by conductor Ben Palmer and recorded here with his Orchestra of St Paul’s.

In 1942, during World War II, Binyon looked back on his relationship with Elgar and forward to the time when the bells would ring in England again signifying peace. Carillon, his poem for reciter and orchestra, is recorded here by the renowned actor Simon Callow in Elgar’s original setting from 1914.

On This Recording

  1. The Spirit of England: No. 1. The Fourth of August
  2. The Spirit of England: No. 2. To Women
  3. The Spirit of England: No. 3. For the Fallen
  4. With proud thanksgiving
  5. Carillon: Carillon, Op. 75
  6. Arthur: Introduction to Scene 1
  7. Arthur: Scene 1: Now you have told me
  8. Arthur: End of Scene 1
  9. Arthur: Introduction to Scene 2
  10. Arthur: Introduction to Scene 3
  11. Arthur: Scene 3: Put me on the barge
  12. Arthur: Link to Scene 4
  13. Arthur: Introduction to Scene 4
  14. Arthur: Scene 4: Curtain rises
  15. Arthur: Scene 4: And both dangerous
  16. Arthur: Scene 4: It may be
  17. Arthur: Scene 4: The Queen
  18. Arthur: Scene 4: King Arthur’s Fellowship
  19. Arthur: Scene 4: As the King wills
  20. Arthur: Scene 4: The radiant rose
  21. Arthur: Scene 4: Our Queen!
  22. Arthur: Scene 4: Ah false
  23. Arthur: Scene 4: Reading letter
  24. Arthur: Introduction to Scene 5
  25. Arthur: Scene 5: No tree was there
  26. Arthur: Introduction to Scene 7
  27. Arthur: Scene 7: Go Lucan, to meet her
  28. Arthur: Scene 7: Thy sword
  29. Arthur: End of Scene 7
  30. Arthur: Introduction to Scene 8