Elgar conducting his cello concerto: audio and documentary evidence of style beyond the score
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Edward Elgar conducted his Cello Concerto Op.85 twice in the recording studio in 1919 and 1928, both times with solo cellist Beatrice Harrison. These audio recordings differ greatly from more recent interpretations. The recordings reveal unique phrasing and tempo flexibility, as well as regular use of string portamento – audibly sliding between notes – throughout the whole work. This treatise analyzes the Elgar-Harrison recordings identifying those stylistic performance traits beyond the score: that strongly correlate with evidence of Elgar’s comments on performance style; that strongly correlate with the markings in Harrison’s copy of the solo cello part; and that are clearly present in the recordings, but not commented on by Elgar or Harrison. There is much conjecture written about Elgar and his musical style beyond the score. For this reason, the internal view of what Elgar said and did is separated from the external view of witness accounts and secondary evidence. The consistencies and inconsistencies within and between these internal and external views are then tested for accuracy and integrity.