Sir Edward Elgar (1857-1934) is well-known, so I won't go into too many details about his illustrious career.
He was organist of St. George's Roman Catholic Church in Worcester for several years. Although we think of him and his music as the very essence of "Anglicanism," he was himself a life-long Roman Catholic, and experienced some prejudice because of his faith.
The "Allegretto pensoso" comes from his group of "Vesper Voluntaries, Op.14", a collection of works intended to be used as "service music" preceding the Office of Vespers.
Simon Preston, who edited the Faber edition, equates them with the "Short Preludes and Postludes" of Stanford, and "L'Organiste" of Franck. Preston says that despite the fact that are small in scale, they exhibit "a wealth of interesting harmonic ideas and quirky Elgarian rhythmic devices that abound in many of his later, large-scale works."
In addition to these works, his massive "Sonata in G" stands as one of the greatest pieces in English organ literature of any period.
These works were conceived as individual litirgical works, but can be played as a "suite." That was my intent, but I just didn't feel up to working out the whole group, so, I took the "Allegretto pensoso," the 7th in the set, as a separate work.
Despite its "scherzo-like" approach, the key is F-sharp minor, and features the dark sounds of the Willis diapasons, with the Swell Hautboy poking through to punctuate the chords. This piece has the fell of a "piano miniature," the kind of thing that composers like Schubert and Schumann were so skilled at writing.
In listening to the playback, I think that I could have been a little "more free" with my interpretation, but I think it's OK. I guess I was "looser" when I was trying to record the whole set, and had gotten a bit tired and more "matter of fact" when I took this one alone!