Elgar’s Violin Concerto was written between the First and Second Symphonies, and premiered in November 1910 with Fritz Kreisler as soloist and Elgar himself conducting. Within a week Dan Godfrey had also conducted it in Bournemouth! It is a highly personal and intensely lyric reflection of Elgar’s complex personality, possibly the most autobiographical violin concerto ever written. In common with more than a few of Elgar’s other works, it seems to begin in the middle of a remark, as if the listener has just opened the door to a room in which a conversation is in progress.
Shostakovich’s Sixth Symphony is one of two halves. The first, an expansive largo, darkly beautiful with moments of searing intensity; the other a frenetic descent into absurdity and black humour via two short movements – a breezy scherzo and a circus-like finale. It is a personal work, reflecting not only the difficult and trying times in which Shostakovich lived and worked, but also the resilience and strength of his character.
Dreaming by the Fireside is a tender and poignant symphonic interlude from Strauss’ comic opera Intermezzo in which the heroine sits alone by her fireplace, daydreaming of a lover.