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Oct 17

“[One] of the most exciting events I have experienced during a reviewing career approaching half a century” Birmingham Post on ESO Elgar Pilgrimage

An extraordinary rave review from senior critic Christopher Morley for Donald Fraser’s orchestration of the Elgar Piano Quintet as heard in the final concert of the 2015 Elgar Pilgrimage

Composer, producer, conductor and arranger, Donald Fraser

Composer, producer, conductor and arranger, Donald Fraser

“Two of the most exciting events I have experienced during a reviewing career approaching half a century involve symphonies Elgar never wrote….This “War Symphony” (the title taking its cue from an entry in Alice Elgar’s diary) is a triumph in its recreation of Elgar’s rich orchestral sound-world, and though Fraser, unlike Payne, had all the material in front of him, he had the difficult task of making us forget the original medium and accept the new one…Fraser’s assimilation of Elgar’s orchestral methods bears fascinating fruit and then some. His antiphonal use of brass, athletic horns in conversation with the heavier mob on the other side of the stage, is a highly effective resource; his deployment of percussion (quietly menacing timpani, skeletal tambourine) adds to the points being made, and the strings sing and cushion with gorgeous depths of tone….The ESO certainly played with an enthusiastic awareness that they were making history, and the devoted, unassuming Kenneth Woods conducted with an easy flexibility that recalled the work’s chamber-music origins. This “War Symphony” deserves to be acknowledged immediately as a worthy addition to the Elgar canon.”

Read the whole thing here