by Patrick Turner.
Thames TH980177 Paperback 160pp
Audiences and critics were quick to realise that a masterpiece had come among them when Elgar's 'Enigma' Variations had its first performance, in June 1899. It has stayed at the forefront of the orchestral repertoire ever since, and the Nimrod variation in particular has achieved a very special place in the nation's affections.
Patrick Turner's authoritative book, now in its second edition, was written to celebrate the centenary of this much-loved work, and takes a refreshing new look at the circumstances surrounding its composition, together with its associated puzzles, making extensive reference to a wide range of source material. Some of this appears here in published form for the first time, including - surprisingly - the first-ever reference to an enigma in connection with the work.
He offers an explanation of how the enigma itself came into being, and a new solution for the hidden theme that is unique insofar as it is the first time a tune has been put forward that actually fits Elgar's theme perfectly.
Copiously but unobtrusively annotated, this fascinating book makes a valuable contribution to Elgarian scholarship whilst at the same time remaining eminently readable. It will appeal to specialists and non-specialists alike.