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George BUTTERWORTH (1885-1916)
Two English Idylls [4:58 + 4:32]
The Banks of Green Willow [5:33]
A ‘Shropshire Lad’ Rhapsody [8:35]
Peter WARLOCK (1894-1930)

An Old Song for small orchestra [5:56]
Patrick HADLEY (1899-1973)

One Morning in Spring - Rhapsody for small orchestra [3:54]
Herbert HOWELLS (1892-1983)

Procession [4:51]
Merry-eye * [8:50]
Elegy for viola, string quartet and string orchestra * [9:05]
Music for a Prince * [7:11 + 5:17]: Corydon’s Dance; Scherzo in Arden
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Sir Adrian Boult
* Herbert Downes (viola); Desmond Bradley, Gillian Eastwood (violins); Albert Cayzer (viola); Norman Jones (cello)
New Philharmonia Orchestra/Sir Adrian Boult
rec. 1975 (Butterworth), 1985 (An Old Song), 1978 (Howells), 1979 (One Morning in Spring). ADD
LYRITA SRCD.245 [68.46]

One of many wonderful recent re-releases from Lyrita, this disc offers a splendid compilation of works by Butterworth, Howells, Hadley and Warlock.

The disc opens with Butterworth’s Two English Idylls, delightful pieces based on English folk-songs - of which Butterworth, along with Ralph Vaughan Williams and Cecil Sharp, was a collector. The first Idyll cleverly combines three Sussex folk-songs (Dabbling in the Dew, Just as the tide was flowing, and Henry Martin), and the second just one (Phoebe and her dark-eyed sailor). Boult creates a beautifully rich string sound here, yet with a light and delicate touch, and evokes a combined sense of joy and nostalgia. An intense and passionate rendition of The Banks of Green Willow follows, another work based on folk-song. There is great drama in the contrast that Boult produces between the melting tenderness and the astringency of the vehement interjections from the strings. The Shropshire Lad Rhapsody is given a radiant and poignant performance, and precedes Peter Warlock’s An Old Song. Composed in his early twenties, and, according to the composer, based on a Gaelic tune and on the Cornish countryside, the piece shows a sustained lyricism that one might not normally associate with Warlock, yet unmistakably Warlockian chords and chromaticism creep in and give the game away. Patrick Hadley ensues, with his One Morning in Spring. This employs the folk-song known as Tuesday Morning, from the opera Hugh the Drover, by Hadley’s teacher, Vaughan Williams, sung with the words "As I was a-walking one morning in the Spring". This work was written to celebrate Vaughan Williams’s 70th birthday. Boult gives a relaxed and luxuriant performance of this brief but charming piece. A change of mood comes with a rare outing for Herbert Howells’s Procession. In a spirited and atmospheric performance, Boult captures a good sense of underlying menace, which was inspired by a dream of an ominous procession. A buoyant version of Merry-Eye follows, and then a tender performance of the Elegy for viola, string quartet and string orchestra, written in memory of Howell’s friend and fellow composer "Bunny" Warren, killed in action in 1916. This is a typically Howells-ian work, incredibly deeply-felt, and with searingly radiant strings. Herbert Downes captures the throbbing intensity of the solo viola opening wonderfully. Alas, this version of the heart-breaking work is slightly marred by fairly persistent creaking chairs about two-thirds of the way through. The final piece on the disc is Music for a Prince, composed by Howells to commemorate the birth of Prince Charles. Corydon’s Dance is almost film-score-ish, with lush orchestration, and the final Scherzo in Arden slightly martial, with occasionally strident woodwind and background percussion. Both are superbly played, although there are more creaking chair sounds in the opening.

Lush and passionate performances of the most wonderful English miniature masterpieces!

Em Marshall

see also review by Rob Barnett, John Quinn and Jonathan Woolf


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