David Owen Norris
There are the piano improvisations featured by David Owen Norris on this week's Saint Paul Sunday, 20 minutes of music which Elgar recorded straight onto hot wax in November, 1929. There are also15 Elgar piano fragments in the British Museum - ranging from a few bars to a complete piece. Plus, there is a score of what was apparently the slow movement of a piano concerto, which Elgar gave to his friend, the pianist Harriet Cohen. It turned out to be a shorter version of the fourth recorded improvisation. According to Norris, "It proved to me that the improvisations were connected in Elgar's mind with the concerto because, bless my soul, they were the same tune." Norris encouraged his friend, composer Robert Walker (an Elgar enthusiast who actually lived in Elgar's Sussex cottage for 20 years), to piece together a piano concerto from these sources. The aim was not to write "the Elgar piano concerto," but to create a Romantic work based on Elgar's ideas and in the style of Elgar's later works.
The project was two years in the making. Walker reflected on the process, "Sometimes it just flowed naturally and I would be doing bar after bar after bar. At other times, because of the nature of the fragments, there was a good deal of experimenting and working out, taking a bit from here and a bit from there." David Owen Norris premiered the piece in the Devonshire town of Dartington in August, 1997.
The quotations are from Peter Kingston's article in The Guardian from June 6, 1997, p. 4.
Further information on Edward Elgar can be found on the Elgar Society's web site.
Erwin Schulhof: Sonata No. 1
Elgar: 3 Improvisations
Schulhof: Cinz Etudes de Jazz
Musician Web site: www.soton.ac.uk/~musicbox/norris.html
Musician Discography: Currently