Elgar was pre-eminently the composer of large forms. Complex, lengthy development of musical ideas was for him a measure of genius. His songs, with the exception of the orchestral cycle Sea Pictures, were not often the vehicles for his most striking ideas. Paradoxically, he was also bedevilled by a fine literally taste. He once told a friend that he felt it better to set the best second-rate poetry to music, for the most immortal verse is music already. Some of his songs are therefore settings of poets now all but forgotten, such as Arthur Salmon and Gilbert Parker: to their verse his music might make a vital addition. Elgar's songs offer authentic Edwardian reflections which we can value now in their own terms. These songs are full of echoes of a master's thoughts - and especially in the songs written for the stage - flashes of his genius.