The longtext was written by one Henry Hamilton, something of a hack. The speeches are relieved by Elgar’s attractive and diverse music but the pretentious exchanges between the voices of Indian cities – as each city argues for its right to be the new capital – requires a deal of patience and historical perspective. Even so, more circumstance and less pomp would have better served Elgar in scoring this curious work.
Very little of his original orchestration has survived. As recently as the early 1970s, the full score was lost when the building housing the archive of the music publisher was demolished. All that remained was a piano score and a recording of a suite conducted by Elgar. So the remarkable Anthony Payne again came to the rescue. He is the genius who realised Elgar’s unfinished sketches for his third symphony. Andrew Davis knows how this music works and gets excellent performances from all and sundry.
The recording is first-rate and there is some marvellous, undiscovered Elgar for the fans to dine on. Hopefully, Chandos see fit to issuea CD without the tedious spoken text at some point. However, to have the work complete for the first time is very welcome. The fillers are The Imperial March, The Empire March and The Coronation March. These excellent marches in the ‘God is an Englishman’ style are more familiar and have been recorded before.