Elgar: Cockaigne Overture

This piece is a concert overture written for symphony orchestra, and is a musical portrait of London in Edwardian times.  It’s quite a well known and popular piece, and although I’d never actually listened to it in full before I recognised many of the melodies.

The music captures quite a few different moods throughout the roughly fifteen minute duration: there are cheeky themes in the woodwind which could be representing Londoners going about their daily lives, some sentimental melodies in the strings, and bold military sounding sections with plenty of brass instruments, cymbals and snares. The piece moves quite quickly between different moods, creating a kind of collage effect which perhaps was intended to reflect the variety and fast pace of London.  I like the way the same themes are transformed many times, into different keys and with different orchestration.


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