Australian classical music lovers have voted for their favourite 20th-century works in ABC’s Classic 100 Countdown, and the results are full of surprises. ABC radio’s weeklong traversal of the 100 highest-ranked pieces – all composed since 1900 – culminated in a gala concert on December 3, with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra playing the Top 5 and announcing the modern masterpiece that nabbed the number one spot: Elgar’s Cello Concerto.
Like so many other fans of the work, ASO conductor Benjamin Northey came to know the Cello Concerto through Jacqueline Du Pré’s beloved recording. “It tugs at the heart strings of those with a soft spot for Elgar’s unique style of British romanticism,” he said.
Judging by the complete Classic 100, it seems allegiance to the motherland is alive and well when it comes to Australia’s taste in classical music. Three works in the Top 10 are by British composers: Holst’s The Planets claimed second place and Vaughan Williams’s The Lark Ascending came in third. The latter free-spirited work for violin and orchestra was No 2 in the original ABC Classic 100 Countdown ten years ago, runner-up to Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto K622.
Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance, First Symphony, Violin Concerto and Dream of Gerontius also made...