Military wind bands were very popular in Britain in the early part of the twentieth century. Sir Edward Elgar and his contemporaries wrote quite a bit of music for this type of ensemble. A new release from Somm Recordings called Elgar and His Peers: The Art of the Military Band celebrates this repertoire.
Although music by Elgar is at the center of the album, pieces by his contemporaries are also included. Those composers include Ralph Vaughan Williams, Walton O’Donnell and Sir Thomas Beecham.
The album also includes The Joyful Company of Singers for two pieces, “With Proud Thanksgiving” and “So Many True Princesses Who Have Come and Gone.” In 1932, Elgar was asked to compose the latter piece in honor of Queen Alexandra, wife of King Edward VII. “So Many True Princesses Who Have Come and Gone” sets several verses by Poet Laureate John Masefield. The piece was first performed during the unveiling of a monument in honor of Queen Alexandra, who had died in 1925.
Both of the choral works receive their world premiere recordings on this album. Several other pieces also appear for the very first time, including Elgar’s transcription of two chorales from Johann Sebastian Bach’s St. Matthew Passion and his Pomp and Circumstance Military March in C major. A march by Sir Thomas Beecham (best known as a conductor and the founder of the London Philharmonic) also receives its world premiere on this album.