Sir John Eliot Gardiner, conductor Ann Hallenberg, alt Programme Edward Elgar - Cockaigne (Overture) op. 40 Gustav Mahler - Rückert-songs Edward Elgar - Symphony no. 2 in E flat major, op. 63 Gustav Mahler was above all a melodic composer, as his songs and symphonies attest. The Rückert-Lieder, composed shortly after his marriage, are by turns playful, sensual and fatalistic. Like Mahler, Edward Elgar felt unrecognised and misunderstood for many years. His orchestral music is quintessentially British in that it is both emotive and distant at the same time. He wrote the Symphony No. 2 as a homage to Edward VII, but the work is actually a self-portrait. Here, Elgar bares his soul and his hidden grief for a lost friend. It is Romantic music, but the continually derailed fanfares are a sign that Elgar does have one foot in the twentieth century. The name ‘Cockaigne’ stood for London in the nineteenth century, and Elgar’s Cockaigne Overture evokes the atmosphere of the city around 1900 – complete with the hum of street vendors and horse carriages.