Sir Edward Elgar (1857 – 1934)
English composer who probably needs no introduction.
The Enigma variations are variations on a theme for orchestra, and are all dedicated to one of his friends. Nimrod, the 9th and most famous, is dedicated to his friend August Jaeger. Jaeger means hunter in German, and Nimrod is mentioned in the Biblical book of Genesis as 'a mighty hunter'.
The 'Engima' part is supposedly having to work out what the theme/melody actually is, as it never appears. Elgar said the theme which is used for the variations is a counterpoint of a silent melody, which was a well known one. He was surprised no one ever worked it out. Suggestions have included Auld Lang Syne, God Save The Queen/King and Rule Britannia - which is a favoured one (there are suggestions Elgar supported this). He never told anyone before his death what the solution actually was though. Other suggestions are that it is a musical theme referring to the mathematical value of Pi.
This transcription is by Noel Rawsthorne, who was organist at Liverpool Cathedral from 1955 - 1980. Some play it fast-ish but I prefer slower tempos. I remember hearing Leonard Bernstein conducting an orchestra and taking nearly 6 minutes. Maybe a bit slow but I suppose the fact it has come to be used so much for remembrance services and funerals that slow is the norm for me.
The registration used for this piece is simple. It starts on the Positiv with Holzfloete, Gamba and Vox Coelestis, before moving to the Swell which is coupled to the Positiv and adds Lieblich Gedackt and Spitzquint 2 2/3'. The Great uses Principal, Rohrfloete, Weidenpfeife, Octav. Added to the Great near the end as it builds is the Superoctav 2' Siffloete 1 1/3', Cymbel 2f and finally Trompete. The Pedal uses Subbass, Zartbass, Gedacktbass with octave coupler. Added near the end are the Principal 16' and Contrafaggot 32'.
For Agnus_Dei, to show that it is "not all bad" :D :D
Hope you enjoy.