Gordon Jacob’s superbly crafted music is still too
little-heard nowadays. The present recording of his delightful Concertino
for Piano and Strings (1954) is thus most welcome; for, in spite
of its brevity, this concise piece has all the Jacob fingerprints: endless
melodic and rhythmic invention, colourful scoring and absolute instrumental
and formal mastery.
De la Mare’s Peacock Pie has been an important
source of inspiration for Howells and Gibbs. The latter set a number
of de la Mare’s verse but also collaborated with the poet for Crossings.
The short suite Peacock Pie (1933), in three movements
each based on a poem from the eponymous collection of verse, is a delightful
work brimming with melodic delights. The Concertino Op.103
dates from 1942 and is a somewhat more serious work, but is also full
of beautiful moments.
Cyril Rootham’s Miniature Suite (1921)
is another highly enjoyable short work with more than a hint of folk-like
tunes, and has a beautiful slow movement of some substance. Incidentally,
this is its second recording. Richard Hickox recorded it some years
ago for EMI (CDC 7 49021 2, maybe still available in EMI’s British Composers
It is good also to have some Milford back in the catalogue;
for, to the best of my knowledge, Hyperion’s earlier all-Milford LP
has never been re-issued in CD format, which is a real pity. The best
of Milford’s music compares quite favourably with Finzi’s. His beautifully
nostalgic Concertino in E major (1955) is a very fine
work full of wonderful tunes.
Madeleine Dring’s superbly crafted music is also conspicuously
absent from the catalogue. Her jolly frolicsome Festival Scherzo
(1951), sometimes reminiscent of Poulenc in his extrovert Parisian manner,
is also a most welcome rarity. It provides for a high-spirited conclusion
to this most enjoyable release.
Martin Roscoe and his colleagues obviously enjoy themselves
enormously, and their readings of these attractive works are beautifully
recorded. Excellent, informative notes by the indefatigable Lewis Foreman.
Light music, I hear someone say? Well, yes, but superbly
crafted, tuneful and colourful miniatures that make-up for a most enjoyable
programme of rarely heard music. One slight ‘grumble’ though, why was
Finzi’s beautiful Eclogue not included? Never mind, though,
this delightful release is a joy from first to last, and is unreservedly