In 1878 the 21 year old, Edward Elgar (a self-taught bassoonist), his brother Frank and friends Frank Exton and Hubert and Willie Leicester, used to meet on Sunday afternoons to rehearse in a shed behind his father’s music shop in Worcester. With two flutes, an oboe, a clarinet and a bassoon, this was not an orthodox wind quintet grouping, so Elgar arranged and wrote new work for the group.
Elgar gave the works the collective title ‘Shed Music’ and, whilst there are a couple of more substantial works, the majority are short, but delightful, miniatures. Clearly influenced by the classical composers, the music also offers tantalising glimpses of Elgar’s emerging style. Indeed, with their experimental harmonies, key changes and rhythmic syncopations, this is especially evident in the Five Intermezzos. Elgar himself was particularly fond of this work, remarking in later life that “I like the Shed on the whole but the Intermezzi are mine own children”.
In common with a number of his other wind quintets, three of the Five Intermezzos are given whimsical subtitles, presumably of personal significance: ‘The Farmyard’, ‘Mrs and Miss Howells’ and ‘Nancy’.
Elgar’s Shed Music was lost for nearly 100 years before being rediscovered and broadcast on the BBC in 1976. Elgar’s music has been re-arranged here for the standard wind quintet grouping of flute, oboe, clarinet, horn and bassoon.