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Edward Elgar - Variations on an Original Theme Op. 36 - Enigma

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Uploaded on Sep 7, 2011

Variations on an Original Theme for orchestra ("Enigma"), Op. 36, commonly referred to as the Enigma Variations, is a set of a theme and its fourteen variations written for orchestra by Edward Elgar in 1898--1899. It is Elgar's best-known large-scale composition, for both the music itself and the enigmas behind it. Elgar dedicated the piece to "my friends pictured within", each variation being an affectionate portrayal of one of his circle of close acquaintances.

The work consists of the theme, followed by 14 variations. The variations spring from the theme's melodic, harmonic and (especially) rhythmic elements, and the extended fourteenth variation forms a grand finale. Elgar dedicated the piece to "my friends pictured within" and in the score each variation is prefaced with either a nickname or initials, a clue to the identity of the friend depicted. As was common with painted portraits of the time, Elgar's musical portraits depict their subjects at two levels. Each movement conveys a general impression of its subject's personality; in addition, most of them contain a musical reference to a specific characteristic or event, such as Dorabella's stutter, Winifred Norbury's laugh, or the walk in the woods with Jaeger. The sections of the piece are as follows:

Theme (Andante) 0:00
Variation I (L'istesso tempo) "C.A.E." 1:26
Variation II (Allegro) "H.D.S.-P." 3:06
Variation III (Allegretto) "R.B.T." 3:51
Variation IV (Allegro di molto) "W.M.B." 5:13
Variation V (Moderato) "R.P.A." 5:42
Variation VI (Andantino) "Ysobel" 7:38
Variation VII (Presto) "Troyte" 8:54
Variation VIII (Allegretto) "W.N." 9:52
Variation IX (Adagio) "Nimrod" 11:45
Variation X (Intermezzo: Allegretto) "Dorabella" 15:11
Variation XI (Allegro di molto) "G.R.S." 17:45
Variation XII (Andante) "B.G.N." 18:46
Variation XIII (Romanza: Moderato) 21:22
Variation XIV (Finale: Allegro Presto) "E.D.U." 23:53

Conductor: George Hurst
Orchestra: Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra

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