Elgar’s Froissart Overture was his first score for orchestra, named after Froissart’s chronicles of the middle ages and headed by a line from Keats: “When chivalry lifted up her lance on high”. The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra strings launched into its opening with fire and precision, and the faster sections could not have been more chivalric if Tadaaki Otaka had conducted in full armour waving Excalibur.
In fact, he does not use a baton or any extravagant gestures, for his unpretentious manner is effective enough. This ambitious score has five separate themes and each was affectionately played, with that blend of nobility and pathos we call Elgarian. Perhaps the tempi in one or two of the slower sections threatened to tip over from calm to becalmed, and the usual 12 to 13 minute length became nearer 15, but we were clearly invited to wallow a little in a work which should open concerts more often.