I have listened to this Elgar cello concerto hundreds of times. I bought a cheapo bargain basement recording during one of the many trips my parents and I took to visit colleges. Years later, I bought this Venetian Snares album. It took me another year to put the two together: the beginning of “Szamar Madar” is so demented, I always skipped over it. One morning, while on the train to work, I listened to the entire thing and finally got to main meat of the piece and thought, “…wait…I know that line… …Holy $%&! that’s Elgar?!?” I was practically effervescent, I was so excited.
To save you the hassle, here’s a cheat sheet. The cello line arrives in earnest around 1:47; before that there’s only snippets. At 2:14: fasten your seatbelt. Venetian Snares takes a beautiful and somber Elgar cello concerto, adds cocaine, and puts it in a blender. My favorite part is at 2:54 when it smoothes out on top while the drums go bananas beneath. And after all that, it just sort of slowly fades away, like a bruise, and you’re left wondering what just happened. You have to love a band who hears Elgar and says, “yeah, that’s pretty…but what if we sampled the main cello lick, sped it up, and added a breakbeat beneath it?” I just can’t get enough.
Original Elgar, played by Yo-Yo Ma: