Elgar: Cello Concerto
Label: BRILLIANT CLASSICS
Arlia, Filippo; Sollima, Giovanni; Orchestra Filarmonica della Calabria
From Arturo Toscanini and Sir John Barbirolli to Riccardo Muti and Antonio Pappano in our own time, Italian-heritage performers have often brought special qualities of sympathy and understanding to Edward Elgar’s (1857-1934) music. Now comes a new recording made in the ‘boot’ of southern Italy, lending Mediterranean warmth and passion to a trio of Elgarian masterpieces. The Sicilian-born cellist Giovanni Sollima has made well-received albums for Brilliant Classics of music by Offenbach (94475) and by his father Eliodoro Sollima (96287). His latest recording, made at the Teatro Politeama in the one-time ‘lace capital’ of Europe, Catanzaro, illuminates one of the core works of the cello literature with an affecting sense of line and sensitivity to the melancholy introversion which colors every bar of the Concerto composed by Elgar in the wake of the First World War. Twenty years earlier, Elgar’s reputation was secured with audiences across Europe and America through the whirlwind success of his “Enigma” Variations. The stoic beauty of ‘Nimrod’, the gentle wit of ‘Dorabella’ and the nervous excitement and pride of the autobiographical finale spoke directly to listeners who would never know the composer or his ‘friends pictured within’. The agitated, impassioned voice of Elgar in the Variations belonged to its end-of-Empire time and place, orchestrated with a mastery which would soon draw the admiration of Richard Strauss and many more musicians on the other side of the English Channel. Even that quintessential expression of Englishness, the first of five marches which Elgar collected under the Shakesperean banner of “Pomp and Circumstance” and later repurposed to set ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ for the finale of his Coronation Ode, won the composer standing ovations when he conducted it in concerts across mainland Europe. Under the affectionate baton of their music director Filippo Arlia, the Orchestra Filarmonica della Calabria interpret Elgar’s music with a sensitivity and extroversion worthy of the composer.