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THE SEPTEMBER RECORDS
By THE EDITOR
AMONTH which gives us a symphony, a piano concerto, a violin concerto, and a string quartet, each of which, at any rate, for the general public is gramophonically a new work, can hold i ts own in a humble way even with the achievements of a Hobbs. Elgar's Second Symphony, which H.M.V. has issued on six doublesided records in an album, conducted by the composer, may be considered the greatest contribut ion which our country has made to music, and I hope that i ts publication in this new and convenient shape will have the effect of restoring some of the prestige to a name that during the last few years has been unduly exposed to the denigration of young critics who, suffering from the breach that the war made in the continuity of culture, have tried, like their fellows in l i terature and painting, to leap in judgment before they could walk in education. Elgar's renown has been pinched between two stools. On the one hand the pedantic, or perhaps I should say the pedagogic, tradition, which has haunted English music for the last fift y years and which found i ts least unvital exponent in Stanford, depreciated him because he went too ·f ar for their gentlemanly taste. More by private sneers than by honest and open attack this school spread the idea that Elgar, as a composer, like young Frank Churchill as a guest, was "not quite the thing." On the other hand, the younger men have been proclaiming openly enough that his music was the sort of worthy, dull, and harmless stuff that you would expect from a cathedral organist. As usual, i t is Mr. Ernest Newman to whom we may look for a fair judgment, and any reader who wants to appreciate the genuine greatness of Elgar should turn to that critic for help. The actual recording of this symphony is as good as any orchestral recording we have had on the gramophone, and the credit for this must largely be given to Sir Edward's own masterly orchestration. Apart from any question of melodic content or construction this symphony, judged merely as an accumulat ion of diff erent sounds, shows a more consummate capacity for orchestration than almost any composition I know. But i t will take plenty of study.
"When, in my last quarterly review, I talked about a Vocalion recording of the IJ'ouTth Piano Concerto