Land of Hope and Glory needs proper vibrato (The Times)


By Stephen Pollard
August 4, 2008
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I have a piece in today's Times, on Sir Edward Elgar and vibrato. Here it is:

Romantic that I am, I bought my wife some roses last week. They're now all dead. They still have the look of roses - the stems, the thorns and even the petals. But the petals are shrivelled up and the stems dried out.

I wonder if Sir Roger Norrington, who is to conduct the Last Night of the Proms, has any flowers at home. I do hope not. Because if Sir Roger's approach to flowers matches his approach to music, the ambience in his home will be devoid of any joy.

Let me explain. Sir Roger will conduct Sir Edward Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance March No 1, also known as Land of Hope and Glory. Or rather, he is to conduct his own version of it. Because he will ask the orchestra to play it without vibrato - the technique whereby violinists add colour to a note by gently vibrating the finger holding down the string.

That's where my wife's roses come in. Elgar without vibrato is the musical equivalent of dead roses. It's like an omelette without yolks.

Sir Roger says he wants to

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