George Chadwick and Edward Elgar lived almost parallel lives on opposite sides of the Atlantic. Born in Massachusetts in 1854, Chadwick was Elgar’s senior by three years. Chadwick was highly regarded in his role as director of the New England Conservatory and as a member of the ‘Boston Six’ – a group of ambitious New England composers responsible for creating the first canon of America’s classical music. But it was international recognition as a great composer that he sought most.

Elgar, on the other hand, maintained a lifelong suspicion of academics, yet it was he who rose from struggling musician to one of the most venerated composers of his era with the success in 1899 of his Enigma Variations – he became everything Chadwick wanted to be. By this time, Chadwick had already composed three symphonies, his Symphonic Sketches and much more.

There was clear tension between the two, and as Elgar became celebrated in America as well as Europe, Chadwick couldn’t disguise his jealousy – he attempted to enter into correspondence with Elgar on several occasions, but received little by way of reply. When the two did meet in London in 1906, Chadwick commented: “I’m not quite prepared to recognize him as the great genius that his cult would make him out.”

On this recording, Andrew Constantine explores the dynamic between these two composers through two of their most substantial works: Chadwick’s Symphonic Sketches with Elgar’s Enigma Variations.

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