Edward Elgar’s Cello Concerto in E minor, Op. 85, his last notable work, is a cornerstone of the solo cello repertoire. Elgar composed it in the aftermath of the First World War, when his music had already gone out of fashion with the concert-going public. In contrast with Elgar’s earlier Violin Concerto, which is lyrical and passionate, the Cello Concerto is for the most part contemplative and elegiac.
The first performance was a debacle because Elgar and the performers had been deprived of adequate rehearsal time. The work did not achieve wide popularity until the 1960s, when a recording by Jacqueline du Pré caught the public imagination and became a classical best-seller.